Research into health behaviour during and following pregnancy has potential for a wide range of diverse approaches and methodologies. Some of the current and past projects from staff affiliated to the University of Stirling are presented below. New and innovative project collaborations are always welcomed from existing and new collaborators. Projects can range from student research projects and PhD proposals to pilot studies and large clinical trials. Anyone wishing to discuss a project should use the contact tab.

Current Projects

Physical activity

A randomised controlled trial involving 109 pregnant women in Northern Ireland with the aim of reducing the decline in physical activity throughout pregnancy.

This study aimed to examine if a theory-based intervention using PA consultations would reduce the magnitude of decline in objectively measured PA between the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. A RCT was carried out in an urban maternity unit in Northern Ireland between September 2012 and June 2013. 109 low-risk, primigravida pregnant women were randomised to a control (n = 54) or intervention group (n = 55). Intervention participants received three face-to-face individual PA consultations. Daily PA was measured in each trimester using seven day accelerometry. Intention to treat analysis was performed on data from 97 participants. Time in moderate, vigorous and moderate-vigorous intensity PA (MVPA) significantly declined between trimesters one and three in both groups (P < 0.001).

There were no statistically significant differences in PA between groups in any trimester. Women in the intervention group who were less active in trimester one did not demonstrate a significant decline in MVPA throughout pregnancy (in contrast with the decline identified in the more active participants). The findings indicate that PA consultations were not effective in reducing the decline of MVPA in throughout pregnancy, however, women who were less active in trimester one and received PA consultations had a lesser decrease in MVPA. It is possible that pregnant women, specifically those who are more active at the start of pregnancy, have differing needs for PA behaviour change and maintenance, requiring more intense interventions than less active women.

Read more about this study under Publications.

This study aimed to explore women’s experiences of PA during a recent pregnancy, understand the barriers and determinants of antenatal PA and explore the acceptability of antenatal walking groups for further development. Seven focus groups were undertaken with women who had given birth within the past five years. Focus groups were transcribed and analysed using a grounded theory approach. Relevant and related behaviour change techniques (BCTs), which could be applied to future interventions, were identified using the BCT taxonomy.

Women’s experiences and views provided a range of considerations for future intervention development, including provision of childcare, involvement of a fun and engaging leader and a range of activities rather than just walking. The findings of this study emphasise the importance of involving the target population in intervention development and present the theoretical foundation for building an antenatal PA intervention to encourage women to be physically active throughout their pregnancies.

Read more about this study under Publications.