US Pregnant Women: Tech & Media

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US Pregnant Women: Tech & Media

Key Takeaways


Introduction

The research team has provided five insights on how American pregnant women relate to technology and media, including two insights tailored specifically to low-income expectant mothers in the country. As requested, the research team prioritized insights that address access to, or trust in, technology and media, in order to facilitate a greater understanding of whether income level impacts the relationship of pregnant women to these tools/outlets. In select instances, slightly dated research was leveraged to add robustness, corroboration and/or unique insights to the provided findings, considering the highly specific nature of the subject of interest and the more narrow availability of reputable sources.

I. American Pregnant Women

Access to Technology / Media

  • Consistent with the general American population, pregnant women in the country have near-ubiquitous access to technology and major media sources, per the latest research published by the AMIA Annual Symposium and JMIR mHealth and uHealth.
  • According to the latest longitudinal study by the AMIA, "most" pregnant women in America have access to all major forms of technology and media, with text messaging (100%) and social media (90.8%) representing the most commonly used by this cohort.
  • Corroborating this finding, JMIR mHealth and uHealth reported that almost all expectant mothers in America have access to the Internet (89%) and/or a mobile phone (88%).
  • As depicted below, even less popular forms of technology/media are commonly engaged by this population, such as automated phone calls (71.6%), FaceTime/Skype (68.8%) and online discussion forums (63.3%).

Interest & Trust in Technology / Media

  • In tandem with this cohort's high level of access to technology and media, the AMIA Annual Symposium, the Journal of BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth and the Journal of Medical Internet Research report that expectant mothers in the US have a high level of trust in these tools/outlets, as demonstrated by their measured level of interest in technology and media within the context of health management and support.
  • Although the AMIA found that only roughly one-third of American pregnant women engage technology and media to support their health, it determined that "most [are] willing to use all of the forms of technology discussed to support their health."
  • This is particularly the case with text messaging, online discussion forums and social media, with 81.7%, 61.5% and 56.9%, respectively, of US pregnant women surveyed showing a willingness or desire to use these tools and outlets for health support in the future.
  • Further substantiating this assertion, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth found that American "pregnant women and those with young children place a high value on the information and support they receive from and sharing using online sources and apps," while the Journal of Medical Internet Research discovered that expectant mothers in the US "frequently [report] specific medical information websites as part of their support system."
  • In particular, AMIA reported that American pregnant women "feel more confident in their pregnancy decision-making" after consulting sources such as the Internet for health-related information.
  • The US nonprofit added that expectant mothers in the country typically consult technology and/or the media to build on the knowledge they receive from healthcare providers, and have a preference for a source that is "immediate...regularly available and sent to them...[that] comes from a professional institution, is unbiased by commercial groups, is entertaining, and allows for the sharing of photographs, crafts, and discussion."

Changing Media Engagement Throughout Pregnancy

  • Meanwhile, a Facebook IQ-commissioned study of American parents suggests that expectant mothers in the US rely more heavily on social media for support and education during the early phases of pregnancy, while pregnant women in the country are more likely to generally engage with outlets such as social channels, online discussion forums and buy-and-sell groups as their pregnancy progresses.
  • Notably, among new and expectant parents in the US, newly expectant pregnant women and their partners are the most likely (68%) to view social media as a support system for educating themselves about pregnancy/parenting subjects and products, as highlighted below.
  • This view of social media shifts as pregnancy progresses, such that expectant mothers and their partners look to social media for information on related products and services as they approach their delivery date.
  • In tandem, the overall engagement on social media channels meaningfully increases between the initial period of pregnancy (37%) and the latter stages of pregnancy (42%) for expectant mothers and their partners.
  • This trend is particularly the case for Facebook, given that two-thirds of mid-to-late expectant mothers and partners are "likely to use Facebook to seek friend and family recommendations for products or services," up from approximately half in early pregnancy.
  • Meanwhile, participation in online parenting forums as well as buy-and-sell groups increases as pregnancy progresses for American women, as depicted below.

II. Low-Income American Pregnant Women

Access to Technology / Media

  • Despite concerns about the digital divide between low-income expectant mothers and pregnant women overall in the US, the Journal of International Medical Research as well as Telemedicine Journal and e-Health report that pregnant women of more modest means in the country have a sufficiently equivalent level of access to technology and media when compared with their higher-income peers.
  • For example, the Journal of International Medical Research found that disadvantaged first-time pregnant women in major US cities such as San Francisco, New York City and Louisville have "high access to technology," such as a computer (84%) or smartphones (87%).
  • Corroborating this finding, Telemedicine Journal and e-Health published a cross-sectional study of low-income pregnant women across the US which revealed that almost all members of this cohort used mobile phones (96%), most of which were smartphones (74%). Notably, 73% of study participants were on Medicaid at the time they were surveyed.
  • While this second study found that computer usage was meaningfully lower among low-income pregnant mothers (44%), "nearly all" disadvantaged pregnant women had phones for call and text, while 70% leveraged these phones to access the internet and other media outlets.
  • Specifically in terms of media outlets, Facebook was the most popular social media site (used by 81% of low-income pregnant women), while social media (checked 4.5 days per week) and the Internet (checked 5.1 days per week) were more commonly frequented than alternatives such as email (checked 4 days per week).
  • In tandem, the Internet was favored for information related to pregnancy over alternatives such as health apps.

Interest & Trust in Technology / Media

  • Validating these findings, the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology found through interviews and focus groups of low-income pregnant Americans that these women "desire mHealth technology to support engagement and to adapt lifestyle guidelines and treatment requirements for a healthy pregnancy."
  • Moreover, Telemedicine Journal and e-Health determined that expectant mothers on Medicare and of otherwise modest means leverage the Internet for health-related information at a "high rate," adding that this cohort is particularly interested in health data delivered through mobile devices.
  • It should be noted, however, that SSM — Population Health and JMIR mHealth and uHealth found that interest in pregnancy apps and other digital tools among low-income pregnant women in the US is sometimes less than their higher-income peers, owing to a "combination of technological, health literacy, and language issues" among some disadvantaged pregnant women.
  • Some of the demographic associations with lower technology/media usage among low-income pregnant women in the US per Telemedicine Journal and e-Health have been depicted below for review, as desired.


Research Strategy

For this research on how American pregnant women relate to technology and/or media, the research team leveraged the most reputable sources available in the public domain, including the Journal of International Medical Research, the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, Telemedicine Journal and e-Health, SSM — Population Health and JMIR mHealth and uHealth. In select instances, slightly dated research was leveraged to add robustness, corroboration and/or unique insights to the provided findings, considering the highly specific nature of the subject of interest and the more narrow availability of reputable sources.

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