Weisman, C.S., Marianne M. Hillemeier, G.A. Chase, D.P. Misra, C.H. Chuang, R. Parrott, and A.M. Dyer. 2008. "Women's perceived control of their birth outcomes in the Central Pennsylvania Women's Health Study (CePAWHS): implications for the use of preconception care." Women's Health Issues, 18(1): 17-25.
Purpose This study examines nonpregnant women's beliefs about whether or not they can influence their future birth outcomes with respect to the baby's health and factors associated with internal locus of control for birth outcomes. Perceived internal control of birth outcomes could be a predisposing factor for use of preconception care, which is recommended for all women of childbearing age by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The overall hypothesis is that internal control of birth outcomes is a function of prior pregnancy experiences, current health status and stress levels, access to healthcare, and sociodemographics.
Methods Data are from the Central Pennsylvania Women's Health Study random digit dial telephone survey of 2,002 women ages 18–45; the analytic sample is 614 nonpregnant women with current reproductive capacity who reported that they are considering a future pregnancy. Internal control of birth outcomes is measured using 1) a 4-item Internal Control of Birth Outcomes Scale, 2) a single-item measure of Preconceptional Control, and 3) a score reflecting high internal control on both of these measures.
Findings In multiple logistic regression analyses, internal control of birth outcomes is positively associated with older age (35–45 vs. 18–34 years), higher education (some college or more), marital status (currently married or living with a partner), and higher self-rated physical health status on the SF-12v2 (but not mental health status or psychosocial stress). Previous adverse pregnancy outcomes and current access to healthcare have no association with internal control for birth outcomes.
Conclusion Variables associated with internal control of birth outcomes among women contemplating a future pregnancy are primarily sociodemographic and physical health related. Educational and social marketing efforts to increase women's use of preconception care may be particularly important for women who are likely to have lower internal control, including younger, less educated, unmarried, and less healthy women.
Country of focus: United States.