Understanding the Information Needs of Young First Time Mothers from Areas of Mulitiple Deprivation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Computer and Information Sciences

Abstract

Information informs, guides, and empowers; but persistent barriers to access and use are societally divisive and as yet not fully understood, particularly amongst marginalised groups. Addressing enduring issues of information poverty, this project seeks to better understand the information needs of young first time mothers (YFTM) aged 21 or under from deprived areas, and associated barriers, by identifying and better understanding the: everyday information needs, seeking preferences, and challenges of YFTM; and the +/- factors influencing YFTM engagement with supportive services, and the appropriate assistive intervention points and methods.
The UK has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Western Europe, with associated conception rates correlated to multiple deprivation indexes. At risk groups are disadvantaged and disengaged, with significant health and wellbeing issues reported for both mother and child. Intervention programmes focus on early parenting needs with on-going holistic educational support considered key to long-term social inclusion/reintegration; however, there is evidence that mainstream services are failing to provide such support with significant unmet YFTM information needs reported, and overarching concerns raised regarding equity of access to information in both the physical and digital space.
A significant challenge in addressing holistic YFTM information needs relates to our limited understanding of young peoples' everyday information needs, preferences and seeking behavior generally, and more specifically, in impoverished and/or marginalized circumstances (limiting effective tailored service design and delivery considered key to access and use). There are complex and as yet not fully understood access barriers and internalised behavioural barriers to consider, the former influenced by digital divide and information literacy issues, the latter by social structures and norms; barriers that we believe put YFTM, and in turn their children, at greater risk of becoming impoverished information outsiders, living a stratified and disengaged existence. This project, recognising the importance of information access to economic and social mobility, and health and wellbeing; will comprehensively identify and investigate YFTM information needs, seeking preferences and challenges, and advance our understanding of the +/- factors influencing engagement of marginalised groups in both the physical and digital space, including appropriate assistive intervention points and strategies to not only meet immediate needs, but to foster independent lifelong learning and on-going social inclusion. Output will guide both policy (what to provide and from whom) and process (how to provide) of public information service providers (including collaborative aspects).
This project, which will bring together theories of social capital and social networks with theories and models of information behaviour to address issues of information poverty in both the physical and digital space; aligns with ESRC strategic priority influencing behaviour and informing interventions, and associated questions: how to understand behaviour and risks at multiple levels and a variety of contexts; how and why do behaviours change; and how does the interplay of child, family, community and wider society influence inequalities in wellbeing?

Planned Impact

Addressing enduring issues of information poverty and evidence of inadequate public information service provision, this project seeks to comprehensively identify and understand young first time mother (YFTM) information needs, seeking preferences and challenges, and the +/- factors influencing engagement in both the physical and digital space.
Conducted in collaboration with Glasgow Life and Barnardo's, we see this as a major information poverty study, exploring how public information providers spanning (but not limited to) health, social care, education and the third sector can support YFTM and their children to prosper in the digital age. Recognising the importance of information access to economic and social mobility, and health and wellbeing; we will comprehensively identify everyday information needs, seeking preferences and challenges, and typologically map these and associated information requirements to existing public information services, incorporating gap analysis. By mapping the information needs of YFTM against services we can contribute significantly to the important discussion of how public information providers can support and empower YFTM information seeking, and help providers develop new YFTM-appropriate services. Bringing together theories of social capital and social networks with theories and models of information behaviour and information poverty, we will also (importantly) identify and investigate behavioural barriers, how they manifest in both the physical and digital space, and identify appropriate intervention points and strategies to inform future public policy and service provision. Of interest to academics and practitioners, findings and recommendations will advance our understanding of information poverty and associated self-protective behavior, and assist information service providers with evidence-based intervention amongst marginalised, disadvantaged and stigmatised groups beyond YFTM (for example: the unemployed, migrants/refugees, ex-offenders etc.). As Hepworth (2007) notes "we need to understand the phenomena in society i.e. cultural, environmental and social factors as well as individual factors that are linked to how people learn, their IB (information behaviour) and satisfying their information needs so that we can continue to develop successful information products and services". Importantly, output will guide both information policy (what to provide and from whom) and information process (how to provide), including identification of cross-agency collaborative aspects.

Activities to ensure potential beneficiaries (beyond collaborative partners) have the opportunity to engage with this research include: national media releases (and social media), project website discussion forums, two advisory groups (one professionals/practitioners, one young mothers), two open conferences at project milestones, and presentation and publication of output via appropriate conferences, journals, and professional magazines. PI/CI both have a track record of knowledge exchange, including: existing advisory engagements by both Glasgow Life and Barnardo's Scotland, and previous engagements with NHS Scotland, Scottish Education Department, and Scottish Arts Council; successive presentations at practitioner conferences including LILAC 2012, ILI 2011, ILI 2010, ILI 2009, and IFLA 2008; and a recent (April 2013) University Engage event bringing together a number of public and third sector organisations to discuss information access, use and management for health and well-being.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Three key achievements are highlighted.

1. Information needs are complex

Our findings evidence that vulnerable young mothers have multiple, interrelated, and competing information needs, extending beyond parenting to issues of poverty and personal development, often within sensitive emotional circumstances. Situational and complex, we provide evidence of self-protective secrecy and deception, unrecognised needs, and unmet physiological needs taking precedence over psychological needs. In the majority of instances, assistance is required to meet needs.
Our findings provide depth of insight into the multifaceted complexity of needs, and the importance of recognising the natural order of needs, and issues of receptiveness to other needs when fundamental basic needs are unmet. A developed typology of information needs provides a classification system, and illustrates multiplicity.
Our findings advance our theoretical understanding of complexity of need, and how to practically support the information needs of vulnerable young mothers. Our typology of needs can inform services (what to provide); and our findings on multiplicity and sensitivity of need can inform process (how to provide and when).

2. Interpersonal information sources are preferred

Our findings evidence that young mothers make high use of interpersonal information sources, and low use of digital sources. We evidence complex access and behavioural issues, the former influenced by digital divide issues, the latter by socio-psychological factors.

Our findings evidence that young mothers make high use interpersonal sources because they value experiential advice and situational understanding, and the ability to discuss needs. In relation, we evidence that interpersonal sources are largely localised, with mothers unlikely to seek information from external sources, including State, without support. Stigma is evidenced as a significant influencing factor.

Our findings evidence that digital usage is low partly due to interpersonal preferences, and partly due to mothers having limited Internet access. Low information literacy is also an issue. Our findings evidence that digital cannot be viewed as a primary form of information dissemination amongst vulnerable young first-time mothers, and that holistic interpersonal approaches remain important. This has significant implications for public policy and digital health and welfare strategies.

3. Human information intermediaries are vital

Our findings evidence an important human information intermediary role with three key contributions to information behaviours in disadvantaged and dependent circumstances. Intermediaries:

• Facilitate information needs recognition, and measured purposeful action within problematic situations.
• Are a key source of information in themselves, and a key integrative connection to other external sources not otherwise accessed.
• Tailor and personalise information for relevance, and communicate via incremental and recursive cycles that take into account learning needs.

Our findings and information intermediary model provide parameters for a theory of intermediary intervention to guide future examination of an important and understudied role; and conceptualise important theoretical relationships between information behaviour and social capital, and in particular, shared concepts of social integration, and the progressive and integrative human intermediary role within.

Evidence of dependent relationships also raises questions regarding the development of self-efficacy (i.e. information literacy) in disadvantaged populations, and the role of professionals engaged in everyday support roles. An important future research and policy agenda is established.
Exploitation Route To date, our work has been presented at two UK conferences and two international conferences for academic and practitioner audiences. Two journal papers have been published, with three more pending.

Our work defining an important human information intermediary role, which also identifies a core set of intermediary competencies, has already been adopted by the Scottish Government as part of their Making it Easier: a Health Literacy Action Plan for Scotland 2017-2025. In the words of the Scottish Government (2017, p30):

these common skills of connectors competencies can be widely promoted across sectors, situations and contexts to build a more skilled workforce and health literate society. In particular, we will work with the Care Inspectorate to support social care services and staff to understand the role they can play in supporting health literacy.

Our work identifying multiplicity of information needs, and associated typology of information needs, can be used to influence design of tailored digital health and care systems. The work is already influencing Scottish Government Young Scot development of a tailored digital resource for young mothers (with PI input as an expert panel member).

As can be seen from above, our research is already influencing national policy and health literacy programs.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://yftm.cis.strath.ac.uk/mothers-digital-gateway/
 
Description Our work defining an important human information intermediary role in the disadvantaged context, which also identifies a core set of intermediary competencies, has already been adopted by the Scottish Government as part of their Making it Easier: a Health Literacy Action Plan for Scotland 2017-2025. In the words of the Scottish Government (2017, p30): these common skills of connectors competencies can be widely promoted across sectors, situations and contexts to build a more skilled workfor
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Citation in Making it Easier: a Health Literacy Action Plan for Scotland 2017-2025.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
 
Description YFTM partners 
Organisation Barnardo's
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are providing partners with early access to preliminary and interim findings via advisory group and have invited staff from both organisations and other related organisations to attend the first engagement conference now scheduled for June 15th 2016.
Collaborator Contribution Both partners have assigned a senior service manager to the project to coordinate and contribute to project proceedings including membership of the project advisory group. To facilitate support worker interviews, both partners have arranged access to staff directly involved in the support of young mothers. Both partners are now assisting with the setup of the major fieldwork component, advising on study zones and helping with arrangements for a member of the research team to join support groups run by the respective partners.
Impact In progress.
Start Year 2015
 
Description YFTM partners 
Organisation Glasgow Life
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We are providing partners with early access to preliminary and interim findings via advisory group and have invited staff from both organisations and other related organisations to attend the first engagement conference now scheduled for June 15th 2016.
Collaborator Contribution Both partners have assigned a senior service manager to the project to coordinate and contribute to project proceedings including membership of the project advisory group. To facilitate support worker interviews, both partners have arranged access to staff directly involved in the support of young mothers. Both partners are now assisting with the setup of the major fieldwork component, advising on study zones and helping with arrangements for a member of the research team to join support groups run by the respective partners.
Impact In progress.
Start Year 2015
 
Title Mothers Digital Gateway v1 
Description Addressing issues of low digital literacy, access and use, a prototype tailored digital portal has been developed and made publicly available, to facilitate meaningful digital interventions between young mothers and their support workers. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Still in early pilot stage. 
URL http://yftm.cis.strath.ac.uk/mothers-digital-gateway/
 
Description Health Literacy Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Speaker and breakout group leader at the National Health Service Education Scotland Health Literacy Conference Oct 2016. Intended purpose was to raise health practitioner awareness of the access and behavioral barriers to information found among young first time mothers, and the steps that can be taken to alleviate barriers..
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description NHS Redisigning Health Information for Parents Project Advisory Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Providing input into the NHS Redesigning Health Information for Parents project ensuring that the needs of young mothers from areas of multiple representation are taken into account in future NHS design.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
 
Description Open Conference I 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Open Conference held Jun 15th 2016 for professional practitioners engaged in frontline support to young mothers from areas of multiple deprivation. The conference was designed to share preliminary research and to provide a platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Open Conference II 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Second open conference held Nov 16th 2017 for state and third sector policy makers and professional practitioners engaged in support to young mothers from areas of multiple deprivation. The conference was designed to share preliminary research findings and to provide a platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Scottish Government Young Pregnancy & Parenthood Expert Panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Our work identifying multiplicity of information needs, and associated typology of information needs, has influenced Scottish Government design of a tailored digital health and care system. The PI is an expert panel member to guide development.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018