Factors Influencing Provider Behavior Around Delivery of Preconception Care

Erin C. Nacev, Madelyne Z. Greene, Mireya P. Taboada, Deborah B. Ehrenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Despite growing consensus about the clinical value of preconception care (PCC), gaps and disparities remain in its delivery. This study aimed to examine the factors influencing behavior of health care providers around PCC in outpatient clinical settings in the United States. Methods: Twenty health care providers who serve people of reproductive age were interviewed using semi-structured interviews. Data was coded based on a modified Theoretical Domains Framework and analyzed using deductive content analysis. Results: We interviewed eight family medicine physicians, four obstetricians/gynecologists, seven nurse practitioners, and one nurse midwife. Overall, we found a wide variety in practices and attitudes towards PCC. Barriers and challenges to delivering PCC were shared across sites. We identified six themes that influenced provider behavior around PCC: (1) lack of knowledge of PCC guidelines, (2) perception of lack of preconception patient contact, (3) pessimism around patient “compliance,” (4) opinion about scope of practice, (5) clinical site structure, and (6) reliance on the patient/provider relationship. Conclusions for Practice: Overall, our findings call for improved provider understanding of PCC and creative incorporation into current health care culture and practice. Given that PCC-specific visits are perceived by some as outside the norm of clinical offerings, providers may need to incorporate PCC into other encounters, as many in this study reported doing. We amplify the call for providers to understand how structural inequities may influence patient behavior and the value of standardized screening, within and beyond PCC, as well as examination of implicit and explicit provider bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1567-1575
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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