Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing (ND)

First Advisor

Dr. Shonda Phelon


Approximately 75 million women in the United States are of reproductive age, 15-44 years old. Among this group of childbearing-aged women, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic health conditions are contributing to maternal morbidity, mortality, and poor infant outcomes (Raghuraman & Tuuli, 2021). The current unintended pregnancy rate in the United States is 48%, higher than the global rate of 41% (Ramos, 2019). To improve women’s health and perinatal outcomes, a shift in the paradigm of healthcare should focus on preventative care rather than reactive care. Preconception health counseling (PCHC) with the patient is a primary prevention strategy that allows a provider to discuss the patient’s pregnancy intention, reduce any potential harm, and identify any modifiable risk factors. For this project, a comprehensive review of literature reiterated the need for PCHC to enhance overall health of women, including reduced complications of pregnancy and delivery and reduced maternal and neonatal mortality. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a 15-step guide of PCHC that was used in this project to direct a pilot PCHC program to women of childbearing age in a rural women’s health clinic in Mississippi. After obtaining informed consent, patients 18-40 years of age completed a demographic questionnaire and survey regarding knowledge of preconception health and then received personal, individualized PCHC during their clinic visit utilizing the CDC’s guide, which was also given to the 5 patients as a resource. One month after the clinic visit, the participants completed a posttest survey to reassess their retainment of knowledge on preconception health. Analysis of the survey results indicate that there was a statistically significant increase in childbearing-aged women’s knowledge of preconception health after completing the PCHC (p<.001). As a result of this study, it is recommended that all primary care providers and women’s health providers incorporate PCHC into wellness visits of childbearing-aged women to promote health and subsequently improve maternal and neonatal outcomes.