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JFAS Int 2006;4:e17 - September 19, 2006
Reaching Women of Childbearing Age with Information About Alcohol and Pregnancy Through a Multi-Level Health Communication Campaign

The Best Start Resource Centre launched Ontario's first provincial, public-awareness campaign on alcohol use and pregnancy in 2004. The combination of provincial and local strategies resulted in a multi-level approach with the Best Start Resource Centre planning large-scale provincial strategies, and local groups planning innovative community activities.

The objective was to raise awareness about the risks of alcohol use in pregnancy amongst Ontario women of childbearing age through a multi-level awareness campaign.

The campaign was assessed through formative, process and outcome evaluations. Evaluation components included both qualitative and quantitative aspects. The primary evaluation approach was a pre- and post-campaign phone survey of Ontario women of childbearing age.

There was a significant increase of 15% in rate of top-of-mind awareness that "stopping alcohol use in pregnancy" is one of the most important things that pregnant women can do to have a healthy baby. There were significant decreases in the amount of alcohol considered safe in pregnancy, and of the proportion of respondents who thought beer was safe in pregnancy. There were significant increases in the proportion of respondents that thought that women should stop drinking prior to conception. The results show significant increases in awareness that alcohol use in pregnancy can result in problems with alcohol or drug use (11% increase), trouble getting along others (8% increase), trouble with school (7% increase) and difficulties learning (3% increase). There was a significant 65% increase in the proportion of respondents who volunteered that birth defects could result from prenatal exposure to alcohol.

Despite high pre-campaign levels of knowledge, these evaluation results suggest that the Ontario 2004 campaign was successful in increasing knowledge about alcohol use in pregnancy amongst women of childbearing age. The qualitative and quantitative results show that this multi-level approach, combining local and provincial strategies, was an effective model for campaign implementation.

Keywords: pregnancy, alcohol, awareness campaign


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