Pica is a behavior characterized by the compulsive, persistent ingestion of non-food substances. It is a longstanding practice that has far-reaching implications for prevention and treatment. Pagophagia, or the excessive, compulsive consumption of ice, is a subcategory of pica. Although pica has been documented for centuries, there are limited studies regarding pagophagia and its effects in pregnant women. A comparative descriptive study was conducted to determine whether pagophagia is related to hemoglobin levels during pregnancy. Becker's Health Belief Model was utilized as the theoretical framework. Data were gathered by means of retrospective chart audit. The hypothesis was there would be no difference in the hemoglobin levels of pregnant women who practiced pagophagia as compared to pregnant women who did not practice pagophagia. The sample included 100 pregnant women, 50 women who practiced pagophagia and 5 0 women who did not. Students t test and descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. The hemoglobin levels were significantly (p < .001) lower in pregnant women who practiced pagophagia. The researcher, therefore, rejected the null hypothesis. In this sample, ethnicity had no relationship to pagophagia. No other variables were discovered to be significant in the practice of pagophagia. Findings implied that health care providers should routinely assess all pregnant clients for pica and should carefully monitor hemoglobin levels in women experiencing the phenomenon. Recommendations include replication of the study using a prospective design in various geographic locations and among ethnically rich cultures.


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Graduate Nursing

Degree Date


Publication Number


First Advisor

Dr. Patsy Smyth

Second Advisor

Dr. Linda Cox

Third Advisor

Lorraine Hamm

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons