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Release: Dec. 11, 2001

UI researchers to develop media program on alcohol and pregnancy

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa researchers have received $1.1 million from the Association of Schools of Public Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a three-year study that will use television to educate Iowa women on the health risks associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

John Lowe, professor and head of community and behavioral health, will lead the project. Co-investigators include Randy Hirokawa, professor and chair of communication studies, Leslie Baxter, professor, and Steve Duck, professor, both in communication studies, and Peter Nathan, professor of psychology.

The UI team will design, develop and implement television spots aimed at educating young women about the health risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The researchers plan to air the spots on television stations around the state and then measure their effectiveness.

"The key here is that we're going to have women help us in the design of these spots," Lowe said.

Researchers will conduct focus groups with participants in the Women and Infant Children (WIC) program for input as to what kinds of messages women feel would be most effective and how the television spots should be formulated to catch their attention.

"We're not looking to preach to women," Lowe said. "The goal is to establish better interpersonal communication between these women and their health care providers."