2 May 2020

Project aims

This project aimed to develop tailored content for women with severe mental illness to add to the existing preconception tool on Tommy's Baby Charity website.

The free online tool will be accessible to anyone and will provide preconception information for women with SMI (traditionally under-served) as well as other risk factors highly prevalent in south London such as: smoking, diet, weight, alcohol and drug use.

How the project was carried out

A rapid evidence review was carried out to synthesise existing research on preconception health for women with SMI and other related risk factors by searching peer-reviewed and grey literature material to identify the contents for the SMI preconception tool.

The research team worked closely with Tommy’s Baby Charity. Interviews with stakeholders were carried out including 10 face-to-face interviews with women with SMI who were planning a pregnancy or pregnant from diverse backgrounds and 10 telephone in-depth interviews with health professionals. A perinatal lived experience advisory group informed every stage of the project.

Potential benefits of the project

Data gathered from past use of Tommy’s existing preconception tool shows that 8% of users indicated that they had experienced an SMI but of these women 70% had not consulted a health professional about pregnancy planning. Based on these statistics, we believe the current tool is a very effective method of reaching women planning a pregnancy with SMI but needs to be tailored for them.

The study was funded by Public Health England and NHS England. It was adopted by ARC South London in November 2019 and will be completed by autumn 2020.