UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A case study of prenatal education and online environments Stoopnikoff, Karen Lee


Current prenatal education literature is health care focused and does not incorporate the lived experiences of prenatal families or how consumers access prenatal information online. A literature review of online environments highlighted consumers’ use of the internet and desirable website design. The intent of this study was to understand prenatal families’ perspectives of their pregnancy needs and the contextual environment of online prenatal websites. In this respect the study differed from the narrow focus of previous research. The use of a multi-embedded case study design provided the flexibility and complexity required to address the research questions. A total of 69 websites were examined with each website situated in one of three case types - alternative, general or health care internet site. Each site was examined for website characteristics and nutrition articles. Conversations from two alternative and general chat-rooms were analyzed for site dynamics and prenatal learning needs. Client consent or ethical clearance was not required as the websites chosen were considered public domains and the researcher had no involvement with site participants. It was found both the general and the alternative websites are owned by businesses and dominate search engine results. Corporate sites are easier to navigate, offer more features and have higher visual appeal in comparison to government sites. Government sites make formal and broad recommendations for a healthy pregnancy. Corporate sites use informal styles to present focused information. Online consumers have difficulty accessing information and incorporating healthcare recommendations into their everyday lives. The two corporate chat-rooms highlight that each site has their own philosophies and norms of behaviour but both sites are affirming to site participants. Recommendations from this study highlight the importance of language tone in the creation of teaching materials, and using affirmation as a bridge between health care providers and consumers. Further recommendations follow on how to support front line prenatal educators in expanding their scope of knowledge to meet consumer needs through the development of a diverse and dynamic health care website.

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