Publications & Reports

"Tell us what's going on": Exploring the information needs of pregnant and post-partum women in Australia during the pandemic with 'Tweets', 'Threads', and women's views.

Caddy C, Cheong M, Lim MSC, Power R, Vogel JP, Bradfield Z, Coghlan B, Homer CSE, Wilson AN
Burnet Institute, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.


INTRODUCTION: The provision of maternity services in Australia has been significantly disrupted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many changes were initiated quickly, often with rapid dissemination of information to women. The aim of this study was to better understand what information and messages were circulating regarding COVID-19 and pregnancy in Australia and potential information gaps. METHODS: This study adopted a qualitative approach using social media and interviews. A data analytics tool (TIGER-C19) was used to extract data from social media platforms Reddit and Twitter from June to July 2021 (in the middle of the third COVID-19 wave in Australia). A total of 21 individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with those who were, or had been, pregnant in Australia since March 2020. Social media data were analysis via inductive content analysis and interview data were thematically analysed. RESULTS: Social media provided a critical platform for sharing and seeking information, as well as highlighting attitudes of the community towards COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy. Women interviewed described wanting further information on the risks COVID-19 posed to themselves and their babies, and greater familiarity with the health service during pregnancy, in which they would labour and give birth. Health providers were a trusted source of information. Communication strategies that allowed participants to engage in real-time interactive discussions were preferred. A real or perceived lack of information led participants to turn to informal sources, increasing the potential for exposure to misinformation. CONCLUSION: It is vital that health services communicate effectively with pregnant women, early and often throughout public health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This was particularly important during periods of increased restrictions on accessing hospital services. Information and communication strategies need to be clear, consistent, timely and accessible to reduce reliance on informal and potentially inaccurate sources.

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