“Today is For Me.” – A lifestyle campaign educates women on the harms of alcohol and marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding

September 26th, 2020 | Viewpoint

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When developing a behavior-change communication campaign, it is important to understand underlying motivators and barriers to change. New Hampshire has some of the highest rates of substance misuse in the country. Prevalence of past 30-day use of alcohol and marijuana, and marijuana use in the past year, are significantly higher than average rates in the United States and the northeast region of the U.S. Furthermore, only 18.9% of NH women had a medical visit for contraception/family planning in the 12 months before becoming pregnant (NH PRAMS 2018), indicating the pregnancy was potentially unintended/unplanned and increasing the likelihood of perinatal exposure to alcohol or drugs.

While rates of alcohol use during pregnancy have declined significantly, it still happens, as do babies who are born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which are 100% preventable. Meanwhile, rates of marijuana use during pregnancy are increasing. Providers interviewed have difficulty understanding the reasons because conversations about marijuana use with patients are fraught with stigma and tension about its legality. 

Through research funding from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, JSI learned that women who use marijuana are different from those who use other substances—including alcohol—during pregnancy. JSI identified motivations of alcohol and marijuana use, messages women receive about marijuana during and after pregnancy, barriers to quitting, and challenges to a conversation between patients and care providers. Our research led us to develop Today is For Me and to coordinate with the NH Governor’s Commission on Perinatal Substance Exposure Task Force and the State of New Hampshire to recommend best practices for providers.

“Today is For Me" is a lifestyle campaign that educates women on the harms of alcohol and marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Over its five-month run, the
Today is For Me campaign generated more than 3.3 million impressions among women ages 18–44 in NH. The campaign’s video ad had a 1.03% click-through-rate, more than double the YouTube channel average. Traffic to the campaign website from organic content generated a 60% longer time spent on the site; a 14% lower bounce rate; and almost 300 users spent time with the marijuana and alcohol use flip facts cards, indicating high engagement. Facebook paid ads earned a 3.9% engagement rate, 29% higher than the average of comparable campaigns. Since 2019, JSI has distributed more than 200 materials packets to community partners and 1,000 provider toolkits, which include a video overview of Screening and Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment for providers who treat women of childbearing age who may use alcohol or marijuana.

Today is For Me facilitates conversations about important health decisions women are making for themselves and their babies. Year 2 of the digital campaign follows an evaluation with the priority populations and includes more information about breastfeeding and marijuana, as well as training and support materials for therapeutic cannabis dispensaries to give clients accurate health information about marijuana/THC use and pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

Today is For Me, which won a Silver Award in the 2019 NPHIC Berreth Awards for Excellence in Public Health Communication, can be replicated in any state that wants to reduce drug use during pregnancy.

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