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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Ohio State Faculty Member Receives $120,000 Grant to Debunk Contraceptive Myths in Kingston, Jamaica

Dr. Maria Gallo, associate professor in Ohio State University College of Public Health’s division of epidemiology, received a $120,000 grant from the Society of Family Planning to help educate adult women about contraceptive options in Kingston, Jamaica.

Dr. Gallo and the research team hope to debunk myths and confusion surrounding contraceptive safety. Contraceptive methods often go unused because of false concerns about the side effects and health risks associated with them, according to Dr. Gallo.

[Photo: Dr. Maria Gallo]

“Debunking these myths can be difficult as people have cognitive functions that render misinformation ‘sticky’ and resistant to correction,” Dr. Gallo said. “Attempts to retract misinformation often are ineffective in memory updating and, paradoxically, can strengthen misbeliefs via several types of backfire effects.”

The study will include 220 adult, reproductive-age women in Kingston who do not want to become pregnant in the next 12 months and are not currently using long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC).

One group will watch a short motion-graphic video debunking myths about contraception methods (intervention group), and the other group will watch a video about nutrition (control group). Each group will then receive an option for routine contraceptive counseling following standard care.

“Our primary aim is to determine whether LARC initiation is higher among women in the intervention group compared to those in the control group after three months of follow-up,” Dr. Gallo said.

Recent advances in cognitive psychology have produced solid strategies for debunking myths surrounding proven prevention methods, Dr. Gallo explained, citing a recent randomized trial that succeeded in reducing uncertainty about vaccines.

“We hope to extend this evidence to the contraceptive field by testing the effectiveness of a novel video – grounded in cognitive psychology – for overcoming the factors that cause women to maintain their misbeliefs about the safety and side effects of long-acting contraception,” Dr. Gallo said.

The research study is a collaborative effort with Dr. Gallo’s colleagues in Kingston: Ms. Tina Hylton-Kong of the epidemiology research and training unit; Dr. Natalie Medley-Singh of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and child health; and Ms. Althea Bailey of the department of community health and psychiatry at The University of the West Indies at Mona; and with
Dr. Markus Steiner, senior epidemiologist at UNC and director of the Gates-funded Sino-implant Initiative at FHI 360.

This study is also a first-time collaboration between Dr. Gallo and Ohio State’s Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD). Dr. Maria Palazzi, ACCAD’s director and professor of design, will recruit a graduate student to produce the motion graphics videos to be used in the study.

“Dr. Palazzi has been enormously helpful in helping me figure out how to create the videos,” Dr. Gallo said. “I hope that this is the start of a fruitful collaboration between our groups.”