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Research Article Open Access
Background: As posited in multiple health communication theories, it is vital to understand modern health communication preferences among communities in order to develop tailored interventions to reduce Infant Mortality (IM). Literature suggests that health communication inequalities play an important role in infant health knowledge gaps, thus contributing to the disparate IM rates. We sought to understand preferred methods of communication among expectant or mothers of young children of varying sociodemographics. We hypothesized that methods of communication would vary by sociodemographics.
Methods: A bilingual questionnaire, developed using community based participatory research principles was offered at pre-selected women's health agencies in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Participants chose from a researched list of 22 methods of communication and also designated their "top three choices." Communication methods were compared across sociodemographics using chi-squared statistical tests.
Results: A total of 292 participants completed the questionnaire at the various sites. Participants were predominantly White (60%) or Hispanic/Latina (30%), and lived in Frederick county/Winchester city (77%). Of the 22 communication methods, the five most prevalent were: talking with a healthcare provider (91%), family or friends (85-87%), using internet (84%), and handouts/booklets (80%). Communication methods most frequently chosen as a "top three choice" were: internet (46%), talking with healthcare providers (33%), and talking with family (32%). A higher preference for talking with a healthcare provider was noted among higher income individuals (100%) compared to lower income (82%; p-value=0.0062), a higher preference for call-in hotlines among Hispanic (49%) vs. non-Hispanic women (15%; p-value<0.0001), and a higher preference for placemats at fast-food restaurants among older women (42%) compared to younger (16%, p-value=0.0361).
Conclusion: Results suggest the incorporation of multiple methods may be a practical approach to reaching different segments of the population including those identified as most vulnerable for infant mortality.
Infant mortality, Health communication, Communication preferences, Health disparities, Healthcare providers, Internet, Social media, Health Study, Public Health Policy, Health Promotion Practice