Objectives: The objectives of our study were to 1) assess Canadian women's health information levels regarding pre- and postnatal topics in both primiparous and multiparous samples, and 2) identify factors associated with levels of health information in both groups and the pathways of such associations. Methods: Data from the 2006 Maternity Experiences Survey developed by the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System (N=6,421) were used. The study population included mothers ≥15 years of age at the time of the birth, who had a singleton live birth in Canada during a three-month period preceding the 2006 Census and who lived with their infants at the time of the survey. Structural equation modeling was used to identify and examine pre- and postnatal acquired health information components in both samples and to assess factors that may influence this level of information. Results: Primiparous and multiparous women perceived insufficient levels of information on similar topics: pain medication/anesthesia, warning signs/complications, formula feeding and changes in sexual responses. This common finding underscored that these informational needs had a large impact on the entire population of pregnant women, rather than being parity-specific. Level of perceived social support was positively associated with information acquisition on all health topics studied in both samples (p<0.0001 for both). Income was also positively associated with information levels to a similar extent on a range of topics in both samples (p<0.0001 - p<0.05). Conclusions: Canadian primiparous and multiparous women perceived an inadequate level of information on the same topics, identifying knowledge gaps that should be addressed. Perceived level of social support and income significantly influenced information levels on pre- and postnatal health topics. Therefore women with low income and those with perceived lack of social support may be identified by health care providers as requiring additional health information. © Canadian Public Health Association, 2012.
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