An investigation of Australian midwifery curricula for obesity management and health behaviour change training


Introduction: Fifty percent of Australian women enter pregnancy overweight or obese. Unfortunately, few women receive weight management advice from health professionals during pregnancy. The aim of this study was to investigate current midwifery curricula from Australian universities to identify strengths and deficits in the teaching of preconception and antenatal weight management. Methods: Midwifery courses from 20 universities were identified. Of the 568 units taught at these universities, 252 course outlines were obtained. Data were coded using the qualitative analysis technique of Framework Analysis for the following main themes: 1) the effect of weight, diet and physical activity on health outcomes for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy; 2) weight management advice in any population; and 3) health behaviour change techniques in any context. Results: Analysis revealed a variety of teaching methods and skills training that emphasised the importance of clinical judgement and autonomous clinical practice, in conjunction with critical enquiry and sourcing reputable evidence. There was little evidence, however, that weight management advice was taught explicitly to midwifery students in the curricula. Discussion: A greater emphasis on skilling midwifery students to address weight gain during pregnancy, and behavioural techniques to achieve this, is required.

Nurse Education in Practice