Factors associated with patient understanding of preeclampsia

Whitney B. You*, Michael Wolf, Stacy Cooper Bailey, Anjali U. Pandit, Katherine R. Waite, Rina Sobel Fox, William Grobman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Objective. To explore the extent to which pregnant women understand the symptoms and potential complications related to preeclampsia and to determine the factors that are associated with better understanding. Methods. This was a cross-sectional study in which 112 pregnant patients were interviewed to determine their preeclampsia knowledge. Knowledge was evaluated using a 25-item survey addressing the symptoms, consequences, and proper patient actions associated with preeclampsia. Patients were also asked in an open-ended question to define preeclampsia; all responses were rated by three obstetricians. Information about demographics, medical and obstetrical history, and health literacy was also obtained. Health literacy was assessed using the short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (S-TOFHLA). Results. Patients correctly answered only 43% of the 25 questions assessing preeclampsia knowledge. Moreover, only 14% of the patients were able to provide a definition that correctly reflected the syndrome. Factors associated with a greater proportion of correct answers on the questionnaire were higher literacy, multiparity, history of preeclampsia, and receipt of information about preeclampsia from a clinician or another information source (e.g., the Internet, television, a book, or a friend). Conclusions. Pregnant patients have a generally poor understanding of preeclampsia, although improved understanding is associated with having received information about the disease. Further investigation will be needed to determine how best to educate patients and whether this education can also decrease adverse outcomes associated with this syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-349
Number of pages9
JournalHypertension in Pregnancy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Health services research
  • Hypertension
  • Maternal morbidity and mortality
  • Preeclampsia
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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