Translating formative research findings into a behaviour change strategy to promote antenatal calcium and iron and folic acid supplementation in western Kenya

Stephanie L. Martin*, Gretchen L. Seim, Salome Wawire, Gina M. Chapleau, Sera L. Young, Katherine L. Dickin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The World Health Organization now recommends integrating calcium supplements into antenatal micronutrient supplementation programmes to prevent pre-eclampsia, a leading cause of maternal mortality. As countries consider integrating calcium supplementation into antenatal care (ANC), it is important to identify context-specific barriers and facilitators to delivery and adherence. Such insights can be gained from women's and health workers' experiences with iron and folic acid (IFA) supplements. We conducted in-depth interviews with 22 pregnant and post-partum women and 20 community-based and facility-based health workers in Kenya to inform a calcium and IFA supplementation programme. Interviews assessed awareness of anaemia, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia; ANC attendance; and barriers and facilitators to IFA supplement delivery and adherence. We analyzed interviews inductively using the constant comparative method. Women and health workers identified poor diet quality in pregnancy as a major health concern. Neither women nor health workers identified pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, anaemia or related symptoms as serious health threats. Women and community-based health workers were unfamiliar with pre-eclampsia and eclampsia and considered anaemia symptoms normal. Most women had not received IFA supplements, and those who had received insufficient amounts and little information about supplement benefits. We then developed a multi-level (health facility, community, household and individual) behaviour change strategy to promote antenatal calcium and IFA supplementation. Formative research is an essential first step in guiding implementation of antenatal calcium supplementation programmes to reduce pre-eclampsia. Because evidence on how to implement successful calcium supplementation programmes is limited, experiences with antenatal IFA supplementation can be used to guide programme development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12233
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • anaemia
  • antenatal care
  • formative research
  • maternal nutrition
  • micronutrient supplementation
  • pre-eclampsia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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