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Utah Study Highlights Need for More Detailed Preeclampsia Patient Education

Last Updated on Wednesday, January 17, 2018

At the Preeclampsia Foundation, we work diligently to inform expectant parents of the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia so they recognize and respond appropriately to them. An educated patient can sometimes make the difference between life and death so we strive to make women more knowledgeable and confident to trust their bodies. We are always seeking validation, or evidence, that our education programs and tools yield results – that they are effective, and easily understood and retained by patients.

Despite the clear benefits of patient education in improving health outcomes, it is unclear how often healthcare providers discuss preeclampsia with their patients and how much of this information is understood.

A recent study exploring preeclampsia awareness and prenatal education on the topic among mothers in Utah found a need for improved prenatal education regarding preeclampsia. The study showed that a little over half (56.7%) of women reported their healthcare provider described the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia to them. Similar to the national results of the 2008 and 2014 Preeclampsia Foundation surveys, results from this study suggest that while most women have heard of preeclampsia, they often do not know or are unsure of the specific symptoms of preeclampsia.

The authors conclude that an explanation of preeclampsia signs and symptoms should be given to all women at prenatal care visits to improve health outcomes.

The Preeclampsia Foundation offers patient education materials directly to expectant parents, as well as advocates for practice changes by healthcare providers, encouraging them to have conversations with every mother. This study suggests that simply mentioning preeclampsia is not enough, but that all women should be given a thorough overview of symptoms to look out for, when to look out for them, and how to respond appropriately. Studies like these not only assess the current effectiveness of education programs, but also demonstrate the need for providers to “buy-in” to preeclampsia education for every woman, every pregnancy. 

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