Skip to content
Medical Health Aged Care

Study shows importance of coaching as part of lifestyle programs for women planning pregnancy

Monash University 3 mins read

Personalised support by health professionals is critical to optimising women’s engagement and motivation in lifestyle programs, and improves outcomes for women planning to conceive, Monash University research has found.

Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI) researchers found that women planning pregnancy seek credible, evidence-based information to improve health, which may improve health prior to pregnancy and reduce pregnancy complications. 


Published in the international journal Nutrients, the study analysed the healthy lifestyle program OptimalMe

This online and phone-and-video-based program aims to empower and assist women in optimising their health, advocating for healthy dietary habits and regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight throughout the preconception period and into pregnancy. It also provides valuable information on preconception care guidelines.

Coaching sessions utilise a personalised digital preconception health checklist and establish self-directed, sustainable lifestyle goals. Participants define healthy lifestyle objectives, develop action plans, and receive feedback and positive reinforcement from coaches.

The study results show
that women’s program engagement and usage were significantly higher when they had access to personalised coaching support, in combination with engaging, interactive and relevant digital content. Usage of the digital platform and behaviour change tools reduced when the coaching ended. 

Associate Professor Cheryce Harrison led the program with Professor Helena Teede and a dedicated team.

“Women planning to conceive spend a lot of time researching information online and come across a lot of misinformation,” Professor Teede said. “We found that women value credible accurate information and giving them an opportunity to work with a health professional is critical - it keeps them well-informed and motivated.” 

OptimalMe was supported by Medibank, and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and was available for free to over 300 Medibank members. Ninety percent of participants said they would recommend it to family or friends planning a pregnancy. 

The program is now being updated and a new version focused on pregnancy and post-partum which will be launched this year for women attending Monash Health. The long-term goal is to make it accessible to women across Australia, and expand the program to include inter-conception, the time between pregnancies. 

Kate Pryce participated in OptimalMe, and is now pregnant with her second child.


“I was very overwhelmed when I started looking for information on conception and pregnancy, but OptimalMe provided information in a short and easy to understand format, and because it was coming from health professionals I felt reassured that it was the right advice,” Kate said.  

"The best part of the program was the face-to-face coaching. I loved the sessions, the chance to ask all my questions, even the small ones, and it prompted me to ask my doctor questions down the track.”   

Another recently published analysis of the Program showed that the OptimalMe effectively encouraged women to make positive changes to lifestyle behaviour, including areas such as alcohol consumption.

Dr Bonnie Brammall, whose PhD supported this study, emphasised the importance of personalised coaching as the cornerstone of lifestyle programs. 

"The current study's results highlight the pivotal role of personalised coaching delivered by either phone or video, which shows the potential for scalable and cost-effective remotely delivered health promotion programs,” Dr Brammall said. 

“This not only improves access but also underscores the reach of digital interventions in effectively supporting women on their reproductive journey. These findings are applicable to programs aiming to reach and impact other populations and areas of health."

Professor Helena Teede added: "Leveraging insights from this study, we are developing a user-centric digital platform, supported by coaching, to partner with women throughout their pregnancy journey. Our ongoing program development is currently focused on serving women within Monash Health, and Associate Professor Harrison and the team are now funded to partner and scale this."

For media enquiries please contact: 

Monash University
Cheryl Critchley - Communications Manager (medical)
T: +61 (0) 477 571 442

For more Monash media stories, visit our news and events site

For general media enquiries please contact:
Monash Media
T: +61 (0) 3 9903 4840



More from this category

  • CharitiesAidWelfare, Medical Health Aged Care
  • 18/04/2024
  • 00:00
Leukaemia Foundation

The biggest challenge of cancer patients that nobody talks about… How the Leukaemia Foundation is combatting cancer related fatigue

It’s the number one challenge of people with cancer in Australia[i], yet ‘cancer related fatigue’ is the often-unspoken side effect that drains and debilitates thousands of Australians every day. With approximately one in two cancer patients reportedly experiencing moderate to severe fatigue during treatment[ii], and for many in the years following, the Leukaemia Foundation believes the prevalence of cancer related fatigue could be much higher. According to CEO, Chris Tanti, with the incidence of blood cancer continuing to soar (by 47% in the last decade[iii]), this means at least 70,000 Australians living with the disease are facing a daily battle…

  • Medical Health Aged Care
  • 17/04/2024
  • 15:16
Royal Australian College of GPs

Everyone needs a GP and general practice must be supported to thrive: RACGP

The Royal Australia College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has again stressed the Government’s Scope of Practice review must focus on supporting the vital role of GPs at the heart of primary care teams rather than copying disastrous UK health system failures. In an initial response to Issues Paper 2, RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said: “Everyone needs a GP, and any reform must support the role of GPs at the heart of primary care – helping people live healthier and avoid hospital. “Patients get the best outcomes when GPs and other health professionals work together for our patients. We mustn’t…

  • Medical Health Aged Care
  • 17/04/2024
  • 13:52
The Florey

Increased monitoring capacity of deadly prion diseases

A state-of-the-art service based at The Florey is increasing its capacity to protect the public from the fatal brain condition Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). The…

  • Contains:

Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time you distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.