Peer educators, Preconception education, Prevention of infant mortality, Women's health.



  1. Wade, Gail Holland PhD, RN
  2. Herrman, Judy PhD, RN
  3. McBeth-Snyder, Lisa MSN, RN


Abstract: Preconception healthcare is a way to enhance positive pregnancy outcomes by encouraging women to engage in healthy lifestyles before they become pregnant. Because approximately 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, fetal development may be affected before a woman receives prenatal care. Young women are especially vulnerable to poor outcomes due to risky behaviors. Education about preconception health is not common practice. This article describes a peer education preconception health program for college women that provided a basis for an expanded program with larger, more diverse populations. Nursing students as peer educators presented the program to over 100 young women using the mnemonic REFRAMED PLUS to address eight preconception risk areas and reproductive life planning. Materials to augment the program, developed by peer educators, included a brochure on preconception health, a risk assessment tool, a DVD with stories of young women who experienced unplanned pregnancies, and a Reproductive Life Plan book. Peer educators administered a pretest, showed the DVD, guided discussions, assessed each woman's health risks and administered a posttest. The risk assessment revealed that young women have several preconception health risks. Following the preconception program, posttest scores indicated increased knowledge of preconception health. For preconception healthcare to be successful, preconception risk assessments, education and counseling must be addressed by nurses every time a young woman receives care. When possible, peer educators should be used to disseminate the message to all women of childbearing age.