Collaborating with Indigenous northern communities to develop a SmartMom prenatal education texting program for teens

Teenage pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of poverty, mental health problems, and substance use. In the Northern Health Authority, rates of teen births are twice as high as elsewhere in BC. Prenatal education is known to reduce unhealthy pregnancy outcomes, but few women attend in the north and the number of teens that attend is unknown. As an alternative, we have developed a prenatal education program, (SmartMom), that delivers three SMS text messages each week related to participants’ week of pregnancy. Over one year, we will engage and convene partners in Northern Health to develop a supplemental stream of messages that is relevant and engaging for teen mothers. Through two information gathering meetings in each of several communities, we will develop content that is age-appropriate and appealing to young mothers. We will also develop a Youth Advisory Council to review our messaging and plan evaluation activities. We plan to monitor teen participation in the program and measure changes in knowledge, adoption of healthy behaviours and rates of adverse pregnancy outcomes. While the primary focus is not Indigenous health, we aim to ensure Indigenous teens and their unique lived experiences are considered in our program.

Team members: Randi Parsons (Northern Health); Shaina Pennington (UBC); Vanessa Salmons (Northern Health); Jennifer Murray (UBC)