Examining science and media literacy health communication messages to reduce intentions to use cannabis while pregnant


Objective:

Although use of cannabis during pregnancy can be detrimental to the fetus, use of cannabis during pregnancy has increased. Pregnant people are often exposed to incorrect information about cannabis use during pregnancy online and have expressed a desire for additional information about the effects of using cannabis while pregnant. We wanted to design and test a brief intervention promoting media literacy and science literacy and assess whether exposure would reduce intentions to use cannabis during pregnancy.


Method:

We created two sets of messages, one with a focus on increasing media literacy and another on increasing science literacy. Messages were either presented in a narrative/story or nonnarrative formats. Participants who identified as female, aged 18-40, were recruited online via a Qualtrics panel to participate in the online experiment. We used multigroup structural equation modeling (SEM) to model the relationships across message groups.


Results:

Results suggested that increased awareness about potential harms of Tetrahydrocannabinol to the fetus was associated with intentions to reduce cannabis use while pregnant in the science literacy conditions for both message types (science narrative b = .389, p = .003; science nonnarrative b = .410, p ≤ .001). Increased media literacy for source was associated with intentions to reduce cannabis use during pregnancy in the media literacy nonnarrative group (b = .319, p = .021) but was not significant for the media literacy narrative condition.


Conclusions:

Messages focused on both media literacy and science literacy may be of value to pregnant people who use cannabis, with science literacy likely having a more direct effect. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

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