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In a randomised controlled trial of vitamin D during pregnancy, we demonstrated that women with lower self-efficacy were more likely to experience practical problems with taking the trial medication and that this was associated with lower compliance and achieved 25(OH)-vitamin D concentrations. INTRODUCTION: The relationship between self-efficacy (the belief that one can carry out a behaviour), compliance with study protocol and outcome was explored within a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy. METHODS: In the Maternal Vitamin D Osteoporosis Study (MAVIDOS) trial, women with circulating plasma 25(OH)-vitamin D of 25-100 nmol/l in early pregnancy were randomised to either 1000 IU cholecalciferol/day or matched placebo from 14 weeks until delivery. Circulating 25(OH)-vitamin D concentrations were assessed at 14 and 34 weeks' gestation. A sequential sub-sample completed Schwarzer's General Self-Efficacy Scale at 14 and 34 weeks and the Problematic Experiences of Therapy Scale at 34 weeks. Women were interviewed about their experiences of the trial and interview transcripts analysed thematically. RESULTS: In 203 women, those with higher self-efficacy were less likely to experience practical problems taking the study medication (odds ratio (OR) 0.81 (95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.69-0.95), p = 0.01). Over half reported practical problems associated with poorer compliance with the protocol requiring women to take the medication daily. Compliance in women who experienced practical problems was 94 % compared with 98 % for those with no problems (p < 0.001). Poorer compliance was also associated with lower concentrations of 25(OH)-D in late pregnancy in the treatment group (β = 0.54 nmol/l (95 % CI 0.18-0.89), p = 0.003). Thematic analysis suggested common difficulties were remembering to take the medication every day and swallowing the large capsules. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that differences in self-efficacy influence trial outcomes. Such information may help clinicians anticipate responses to routine vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy and identify those who may need more support to comply. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN82927713, registered 11/04/2008.

Original publication




Journal article


Osteoporos Int

Publication Date





77 - 84


Compliance, Pregnancy, Randomised controlled trial, Self-efficacy, Vitamin D, Adolescent, Adult, Child, Cholecalciferol, Dietary Supplements, Double-Blind Method, Female, Humans, Medication Adherence, Middle Aged, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Prenatal Care, Self Efficacy, Treatment Outcome, Vitamin D, Vitamin D Deficiency, Young Adult