Defining preconception: exploring the concept of a preconception population



Hill B, Hall J, Skouteris H & Currie S (2020) Defining preconception: exploring the concept of a preconception population. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 20 (1), Art. No.: 280.

Background Health prior to conception can significantly impact offspring health, however, a clear definition of the attributes of the preconception population is currently lacking. We aimed to use existing literature to explore the concept and attributes of a preconception population by: [1] identifying characteristics and research recruitment methods; and [2] generating an attribute-based working definition of a preconception population. Methods A rapid review of current literature using CINAHL and the subject heading ‘pre-pregnancy care’ was conducted (Stage 1). Data extracted included definitions of preconception, participant inclusion/exclusion criteria, participant characteristics, and recruitment methods. Stage 2 involved a wider search of relevant publications beyond peer-reviewed literature followed by a concept analysis of the phrase “preconception population” applying Walker and Avant’s framework (Stage 2). Results Twenty-three papers (19 studies) were included in Stage 1. “Preconception” was explicitly defined in one study. Twelve studies specified participants must be planning a pregnancy. Stage 2 included 33 publications. Four key perspectives for the concept of the preconception population were derived: [1] intentional; [2] potential; [3] public health; and [4] life course. Conclusions Adopting these perspectives may allow researchers to accurately define, identify and recruit preconception populations and to develop interventions that are appropriately broad or tailored depending on population needs. We hope the definitions will facilitate research with this population and will subsequently improve the wellbeing of preconception men and women, which is essential to ensuring the health of future generations.

Preconception; Pregnancy intention; Pregnancy planning; Public health

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth: Volume 20, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online07/05/2020
Date accepted by journal28/04/2020
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC

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Dr Sinead Currie

Dr Sinead Currie

Lecturer, Psychology