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Preconception care, Planned pregnancy, Qualitative research, Focus groups



  1. Canady, Renee Branch PhD, MPA
  2. Tiedje, Linda Beth PhD, RN, FAAN
  3. Lauber, Cheryl DPA, MSN


Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the intersection of women's pregnancy planning beliefs with preconception care barriers. We assessed the meaning of "planned pregnancy" for African American women and explored its connection to preconception experiences. The role of race and economics as contextualizing women's experiences was considered.


Study Design/Methods: African American women (n = 168) recruited from health department sites discussed the following questions: "What does the term 'planned pregnancy' mean?" "Would you describe your most recent pregnancy as planned?" Substantive themes were extracted using phenomenological methodology.


Results: The following themes emerged: (1) Preconception care: An unfamiliar concept; (2) Planning for pregnancy: A continuum of responses; (3) The psychology of conception: Attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors; (4) The shared nature of pregnancy: It takes two to plan; (5) Birth control: The means to the end; and (6) The context of preconception care: The big picture.


Clinical Implications: Nurses who care for women in the childbearing years should understand that planning for pregnancy is not a simple cognitive process, and that race and economics play a role in women's beliefs about pregnancy. Preconception care also encompasses the contexts of family, public health, and society. Linking preconception care with all medical encounters is an important but insufficient approach. Nurses should apply their understanding of the biopsychosocial dimensions of health in support of the goals of preconception healthcare. Holistic nursing and public health perspectives should be considered to broaden the scope of preconception interventions and more effectively address social factors that influence preconception care.