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Dr. Patricia Janssen’s SmartParent program expands from British Columbia to Nova Scotia

Jun 25, 2024 |

The journey to parenthood can be overwhelming, but a UBC-led support program is here to help.

SmartParent, developed by UBC School of Population and Public Health’s Dr. Patricia Janssen and her research team, has expanded from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, offering tailored prenatal education through convenient text messages.

Initially launched in British Columbia in 2021, this program offers expectant parents expert-verified prenatal and parenting education through text messages, providing reliable and evidence-based guidance throughout their pregnancy and the first year of their child’s life. By offering three personalized educational text messages per week, SmartParent helps parents navigate the complexities of pregnancy and early parenthood with confidence and ease.

“SmartParent is Canada’s first prenatal and parenting education program delivered through text messaging,” says Dr. Janssen, Founder of SmartParent. “It overcomes barriers of rural and remote location, lack of instructors, and cost, to deliver messages to mobile devices when they are needed. We worked with the BC Ministry of Health and health authorities to develop the program and have had over 18,000 participants in BC to date.”

Funded by IWK’s Catapult Fund, SmartParent is being offered as a one-year pilot program in Nova Scotia this year. Before SmartParent, there was no provincially administered program for prenatal education in Nova Scotia, according to Dr. Melissa Brooks, OBGYN and medical advisor for the Reproductive Care Program of Nova Scotia. While people can easily look up prenatal information on the Internet, the information available can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate.

Expanding SmartParent to Nova Scotia addresses a critical need for accessible, reliable prenatal and parenting education in the province.

“Perinatal education is absolutely essential if we want the best outcomes for birthing parents and babies in Nova Scotia,” says Brooks. “We must ensure that all our patients can access the information that they need in a format that suits their life and resources. Having access to the SmartParent program is a huge step towards this goal.”

“We are very pleased to offer this program in Nova Scotia where we have seen over 400 enrollees in the first month,” says Dr. Janssen.

While the pilot will assess the program’s success in reaching expectant parents in Nova Scotia, it is crucial to recognize the potential impact of this initiative on public health. SmartParent not only aims to improve health outcomes for both parents and infants but also strives to reduce the anxiety and uncertainty that often accompany pregnancy and early parenthood.