Knowing your audience: investigating stillbirth knowledge in Australia to inform the creation of a public education campaign

Knowing your audience: investigating stillbirth knowledge in Australia to inform the creation of a public education campaign

Pollock, D (1), Foord, C (2), Farrant BM(3), Shepherd, c (3), Warland, J (1)

(1) University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia; (2) Still aware, Adelaide, Australia; (3 Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.

Stillbirth is a significant public health issue that has mostly been an ignored and taboo topic. Recently, an Australian senate committee reported on the future of stillbirth research and education in Australia. One of the recommendations was to develop a public education campaign, and funds have been committed towards this. However, there is no information on the general knowledge of stillbirth in the Australian population, and thus it is not known what type of information is needed to run an effective stillbirth education campaign.

The online survey was open to any Australian over the age of 18. Questions on socio-demographics, general knowledge of pregnancy, fetal movements, incidence, risk factors, causes of stillbirth and what an effective campaign might look like were included.

To date, 270 people have participated. Only 25.9% were able to correctly identify the incidence of stillbirth in Australia. Many participants believed that babies run out of room near the end of pregnancy (33.3%; with 21.6% unsure) and 26.5% (with 27.8% unsure) thought that it is normal for movements to slow down before labour. Over 62% wanted a public awareness campaign on stillbirth. Over 65% of participants stated they were comfortable in hearing from bereaved parents and 71% were comfortable having stillbirth discussed on either TV, posters or in public. However, 47.7% reported they would be uncomfortable seeing pictures of stillborn babies in those same mediums.

A public education campaign which includes the stories of bereaved parents is needed to increase Australia’s stillbirth knowledge.

Ethics statement:
This study was approved on the 5/12/2016 by the University of South Australia Human Research Ethics Committee. Protocol number 0000036017. Participants were informed that participation is voluntary and they could stop the survey at any time. Services for mental health support were stated at the start and end of the survey.

International Stillbirth Alliance, Annual Conference on Perinatal Mortality and Bereavement Care, Madrid, Spain. October 5-6th, 2019.

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