Background:The infant mortality (IM) rate in the United States is 6.7 per 1,000 births, ranking 40th in the world and highest among developed nations; it is particularly high in the southeast region, including Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The IM rate in Georgia is 8.1, the 7th highest in the nation. The United States has made slower progress than other developed nations to reduce IM, largely due to persistent health disparities among racial and ethnic groups. For example, research spanning 50 years has demonstrated if all infants born in America had the IMR of white infants born in America, overall the national IM rate would decrease 15% and the United States’ global ranking would improve four places. Though these disparities have remained consistent, research reveals several socio-contextual and medical determinants increase IM, including: early elective delivery; low birth weight (LBW); tobacco use; access to prenatal care (prenatal and neonatal); safe sleep; tobacco use around infants; and access to postnatal care.
Program background:To address these issues, Healthcare Georgia Foundation and Porter Novelli collaborated to develop and launch the Taking Care of You campaign, a social marketing campaign aimed at reducing IM through reducing incidence of LBW babies in three communities across Georgia with high IM rates. The campaign’s target audience is women under 30 years of age, with a family income less than $30,000, living in Georgia who have recently learned they are pregnant and are interested in a healthy pregnancy and baby. We then developed a core insight to reach this audience with compelling messaging: women who recently discovered they are pregnant need to feel like they have some level of control because they are now going to be responsible for another life susceptible to IM and all that entails is completely overwhelming. With the desired audience behavior identified, we created a theoretical framework to guide our strategic approach. To address perceived control in preventing IM, we incorporated constructs of the Theory of Planned Behavior, the Health Belief Model, and Ecological Framework. Our strategic approach includes paid and earned media, materials development, a web presence and technical assistance for the individual communities.
Evaluation Methods and Results:Pilot testing has been overwhelmingly successful with positive qualitative feedback to materials among the target audience. There has also been strong web traffic to the campaign website during an initial soft-launch, including more than 2,500 page views in the first three months. Further process and outcome evaluation will be collected upon the completion of pilot testing.
Implications for research and/or practice:The Taking Care of You campaign has focused on prenatal messaging throughout pilot testing, targeting women who have recently learned they are pregnant. However, the campaign framework is currently being used to inform the development of interconception and preconception messaging that reaches women across the pregnancy care continuum. This messaging and corresponding materials could potentially impact the health of women through post-partum care and even before they become pregnant, effecting more positive birth outcomes for many more women and babies.