Background: Objectives were to characterize how scientific information about prenatal and postpartum marijuana use was presented in online media content, and to assess how media portrayed risks and benefits of such marijuana use.
Methods: We analyzed online media items (n = 316) from March 2015 to January 2017. A codebook was developed to measure media content in 4 domains: scientific studies, information about health and well-being, mode of ingestion, and portrayal of risks and benefits. Content analysis was performed by two authors, with high inter-rater reliability (mean ĸ = 0.82). Descriptive statistics were used to characterize content, and regression analyses were used to test for predictors of media portrayal of the risk-benefit ratio of prenatal and postpartum marijuana use.
Results: 51% of the media items mentioned health risks of prenatal and postpartum marijuana use. Nearly one-third (28%) mentioned marijuana use for treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Most media items mentioned a specific research study. More than half of media (59%) portrayed prenatal or postpartum marijuana risks > benefits, 10% portrayed benefits> risks, and the remainder were neutral. While mention of a scientific study was not predictive of the portrayal of the risk-benefit ratio of marijuana use in pregnancy or postpartum, discussion of health risks and health benefits predicted portrayals of the risk-benefit ratio.
Conclusions: Online media content about prenatal and postpartum marijuana use presented health risks consistent with evidence, and discussed a health benefit of marijuana use for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Portrayal of risks and benefits was somewhat equivocal, consistent with current scientific debate.
Keywords: Communications; Marijuana; Media; Pregnancy.
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