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One or two windows of opportunity for behaviour change? A mixed methods programme of research exploring weight management support during and after pregnancy


1st supervisor: Dr Ellinor Olander

2nd supervisors: Professor Debra Salmon, Dr Tamsin Callaghan

Research Centre

Maternal and Child Health Research

Project description

Approximately one in five women start their pregnancy categorised as obese (BMI>30). Whilst more and more weight management services and care pathways are available for women with obesity during pregnancy, women report that they feel unsupported by healthcare professionals after pregnancy.  This is problematic as the healthy behavioural changes women initiate in pregnancy should be supported postnatally to ensure long-term behaviour change.

This project will be a series of studies using mixed methods to explore the idea that pregnancy and the postpartum period is one rather than two distinct windows of opportunity for weight management support.  The project is likely to include a systematic review on the content, delivery and success of current weight management interventions that are delivered both during and after pregnancy and a longitudinal qualitative study interviewing women with obesity and their partners during and after pregnancy.  A survey or interviews with healthcare professionals will also be needed to identify current weight management support and service provision. The specific focus of each study will be decided together with the successful candidate and a steering group of women with raised BMI and recent experience of pregnancy.

Study findings will inform implications for practice on how to best support women with obesity as they prepare to become parents. The successful candidate should have a keen interest in improving health services and an MSc degree in a relevant field (such as women’s health, health psychology, physical activity or nutrition) and is expected to contribute to the lively and supportive research culture within the Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research.  All appropriate research training will be provided, and there will be opportunities to present research findings to national and international audiences.

If you would like to have an informal discussion please contact Ellinor.olander@city.ac.uk.