By Mandy Bakulski, RD
Maternal Wellness & Early Childhood Supervisor; Children, Youth and Families Branch; Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
A reproductive life plan is a set of goals determined by an individual to improve personal health, decide how many children to have, when to have them and how to prevent pregnancy until they are ready. An individual creates their reproductive life plan based on personal values and beliefs. Even if becoming a parent is years away or not in the plans, creating a reproductive life plan helps a woman and her partner lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid unintended pregnancy.
In alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation to improve preconception health by promoting individual responsibility across the life span, the Maternal Wellness team at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment developed, piloted, and evaluated a Reproductive Life Plan booklet. The booklet was developed by a team of subject matter experts in Colorado. Each page of the tool contained specific information about general health, reproductive health, personal safety, financial wellness, emotional health and self-esteem. The booklet aimed to increase knowledge on a range of preconception health topics, encourage women to initiate conversation with their health care providers, and help women discover ways to take responsibility for their own health by establishing personal goals.
Although the CDC recommends individual reproductive life plans as an intervention for improving preconception health, there are limited examples in peer-reviewed literature of how public health practitioners have operationalized and evaluated this intervention at an individual or population-based level. Therefore, process and outcome evaluations were developed for the Colorado booklet. The process evaluation was successful and gathered informative feedback from the target audience through focus group discussions. A number of challenges were encountered during the outcome evaluation and ultimately the outcome evaluation was terminated. A report was developed that discusses the results from the process evaluation, documents the methods and challenges of the outcome evaluation, and summarizes the feasibility of a paper-based preconception health tool. To read the full report on the Formative Evaluation of a Reproductive Life Plan Tool, click here.
The implementation of reproductive life plans is one way to empower individuals to plan their reproductive lives, much like they would plan their educations or careers. However, continued development and evaluation of reproductive life plans that can be distributed at a population level is warranted. If you are interested in viewing a copy of the Colorado Reproductive Life Plan tool, please contact Mandy Bakulski.