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Perceptions and Challenges of Telehealth Obstetric Clinics Among Pregnant Women in Hong Kong: Cross-Sectional Questionnaire Study

HumanInsight Perceptions and Challenges of Telehealth Obstetric Clinics Among Pregnant Women in Hong Kong: Cross-Sectional Questionnaire Study

J Med Internet Res. 2023 Sep 19;25:e46663. doi: 10.2196/46663.


BACKGROUND: Integrating telehealth in an obstetric care model is important to prepare for possible infection outbreaks that require social distancing and limit in-person consultations. To ensure the successful implementation of obstetric telehealth in Hong Kong, it is essential to understand and address pregnant women's concerns.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to assess pregnant women's attitudes, concerns, and perceptions regarding telehealth obstetric clinic services in Hong Kong.

METHODS: We conducted a prospective cross-sectional questionnaire study at Queen Mary Hospital between November 2021 and August 2022. Utilizing a 5-point rating scale, the questionnaire aimed to capture pregnant women's preferences, expectations, feasibility perceptions, and privacy concerns related to telehealth clinic services. We used statistical analyses, including chi-square tests and multinomial logistic regression, to compare questionnaire responses and investigate the association between advancing gestation and attitudes toward telehealth clinics.

RESULTS: The study included 664 participants distributed across different pregnancy stages: 269 (40.5%) before 18 gestational weeks, 198 (29.8%) between 24 and 31 weeks, and 197 (29.7%) after delivery. Among them, 49.8% (329/664) favored face-to-face consultations over telehealth clinics, and only 7.3% (48/664) believed the opposite. Additionally, 24.2% (161/664) agreed that telehealth clinics should be launched for obstetric services. However, the overall preference for telehealth clinics was <20% for routine prenatal checkups (81/664, 12.2%) and addressing pregnancy-related concerns, such as vaginal bleeding (76/664, 11.5%), vaginal discharge (128/664, 19.4%), reduced fetal movement (64/664, 9.7%), uterine contractions (62/664, 9.4%), and suspected leakage of amniotic fluid (54/664, 8.2%). Conversely, 76.4% (507/664) preferred telehealth clinics to in-person visits for prenatal education talks, prenatal and postpartum exercise, and addressing breastfeeding problems. Participants were more comfortable with telehealth clinic tasks for tasks like explaining pregnancy exam results (418/664, 63.1%), self-administering urinary dipsticks at home (373/664, 56.4%), medical history-taking (341/664, 51.5%), and self-monitoring blood pressure using an electronic machine (282/664, 42.8%). %). During the postpartum period, compared to before 18 weeks of gestation, significantly more participants agreed that telehealth clinics could be an option for assessing physical symptoms such as vaginal bleeding (aOR 2.105, 95% CI 1.448-3.059), reduced fetal movement (aOR 1.575, 95% CI 1.058-2.345), uterine contractions (aOR 2.906, 95% CI 1.945-4.342), suspected leakage of amniotic fluid (aOR 2.609, 95% CI 1.721-3.954), fever (aOR 1.526, 95% CI 1.109-2.100), and flu-like symptoms (aOR 1.412, 95% CI 1.030-1.936). They were also more confident with measuring the symphysis-fundal height, arranging further investigations, and making diagnoses with the doctor via the telehealth clinic. The main perceived public health advantage of telehealth clinics was the shorter traveling and waiting time (526/664, 79.2%), while the main concern was legal issues from wrong diagnosis and treatment (511/664, 77.4%).

CONCLUSIONS: Face-to-face consultation remained the preferred mode of consultation among the participants. However, telehealth clinics could be an alternative for services that do not require physical examination or contact. An increased acceptance of and confidence in telehealth was found with advancing gestation and after delivery. Enforcing stricter laws and guidelines could facilitate the implementation of telehealth clinics and increase confidence in their use among pregnant women for obstetric care.

PMID:37725425 | DOI:10.2196/46663

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