Author: Akia Clark, MPH(c) & Natalie DiPietro Mager, PharmD, PhD
Institution Affiliation: Indiana University & Ohio Northern University
Background: There are few qualitative studies examining rural women and preconception care in the United States. In a previous study, women living in a Healthcare Professional Shortage Area and Maternity Care Desert (Hardin County, Ohio) expressed their concerns and their need for more resources to improve their health. As a follow-up study, key informants of Hardin County were interviewed to provide further insight on what current resources for preconception and women’s health care are available to community members, what barriers and challenges community members face, and what interventions could be implemented in the county to improve health and pregnancy outcomes. Methods: A purposive sample of key informants living or working in Hardin County were recruited and individually interviewed with semi-structured questions from two domains: perceived needs and barriers to care. Interview recordings were transcribed, pre-coded, and thematically analyzed. Results: Fourteen key informants participated, representing a variety of community assets and stakeholders in Hardin County. Key informants shared information regarding what they consider to be strengths of the county. Their recommendations to remove barriers and increase utilization of community resources emphasized delivering education and outreach at schools and community locations; incorporating entertainment; providing childcare; and addressing social determinants of health. Conclusion: Key informants gave direction on available resources for reproductive-age women and potential approaches to raise awareness and provide education. More research is needed to determine what types of preconception care messaging is best so that targeted interventions to improve health for women in this rural area can be developed.