Background: Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common congenital infection in the U.S. and can result in permanent disabilities, such as hearing and vision loss, intellectual disability, and psychomotor and language impairments. Women can adopt prevention behaviors in an attempt to reduce their exposure to CMV. Currently, few women are familiar with CMV. To increase awareness of CMV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed draft health education materials. The purpose of this study was to pilot test two health education materials to gauge their appeal and to determine if they increase knowledge about CMV and motivate audiences to seek additional information on CMV and adopt CMV prevention behaviors.
Methods: African-American (n = 404) and Caucasian women (n = 405), who had a young child and were either pregnant or planning a pregnancy, were recruited to participate in a 15-minute web survey. Participants were randomly assigned to view one of two CMV health education materials, either a factsheet or video. Pre and post survey measures were used to assess changes in knowledge of CMV and motivation to adopt prevention behaviors. We also examined audience preferences regarding materials and motivation.
Results: CMV knowledge score increased significantly after presentation of either the video or factsheet (from 3.7 out of 10 to 9.1 out of 10, p <0.001). The average materials appeal score was high, with a mean of 3.6 on a four-point scale, indicating women responded very positively to both materials. Regression analyses indicated that appeal, message involvement (e.g., information seeking, discussing with others), post materials knowledge score, and viewing the video (vs. factsheet) were significantly positively associated with increased support for CMV prevention behaviors.
Conclusions: Overall, we found that the health education materials improved women's knowledge of CMV and encouraged them to adopt prevention behaviors. Given the low awareness levels among women currently, these findings suggest that appropriate education materials have the potential to greatly increase knowledge of CMV. As women become more knowledgeable about CMV and transmission routes, we expect they will be more likely to adopt prevention behaviors, thereby reducing their risk of CMV infection.