Development and pilot evaluation of a pregnancy-specific mobile health tool: a qualitative investigation of SmartMoms Canada

BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2018 Nov 12;18(1):95. doi: 10.1186/s12911-018-0705-8.


Background: Mobile technology is ubiquitous. Women of childbearing age have embraced health information technology for pregnancy-related counsel as prenatal care provider communication is increasingly scarce and brief. Pregnant women and new mothers place high value in the use of online sources to support their pregnancy information needs. In Canada, over 300,000 women are pregnant annually, with approximately 60% exceeding evidence-based weight gain recommendations. Mobile health (mHealth) tools, such as mobile applications (app), have the potential to reduce excessive gestational weight gain, offering pregnant women trustworthy guidance, ultimately improving the health outcomes of mothers and infants. Therefore, the primary aim of this study was to implement a qualitative, descriptive research design to assess the receptiveness, functionality, and future prospective of the SmartMoms Canada mHealth app.

Methods: Two focus groups (n = 13) involving both currently pregnant and recently postpartum women were organized on the same day. Focus groups were transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis was undertaken using manual coding and NVivo software. Participants who took part in the focus groups (n = 13) and those who could not attend (n = 4) were asked to complete a Likert-scale survey. All survey responses (n = 17) were analyzed using simple tabulation and percentage analysis.

Results: Participants were technologically proficient and interacted with several mHealth tools prior to testing the SmartMoms Canada app. Six major themes emerged from thematic analysis: knowledge of pregnancy-specific mHealth services, knowledge and attitudes of weight gain guidelines, weight tracking, strengths of the app, critique and lastly, future suggestions for the app.

Conclusions: Our thematic analysis found that women positively viewed the future potential of our app and offered constructive feedback to improve the next version. Participants sought more personalization and enhanced app interactivity, along with promotion of overall maternal health including nutrition and mental health, in addition to weight tracking.

Keywords: Mobile health; Pregnancy; SmartMoms Canada.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Qualitative Research
  • Telemedicine*

Grant support