Knowledge and use of folic acid among college women: a pilot health promotion program led by pharmacy students and faculty

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As pharmacists and pharmacy students are increasingly called upon to assume roles in public health activities, it is important to recognize unique opportunities to educate community members on health, wellness, and disease prevention.

Objective: To evaluate the impact of a pilot health promotion program on college women’s knowledge regarding folic acid and prevention of neural tube defects (NTD) and frequency of multivitamin use.

Methods: A health promotion program was developed by a pharmacy student and two pharmacy faculty members that included an oral presentation and reminder messages. A multiple-choice test assessing knowledge of folic acid and NTD and frequency of multivitamin use was given to participants before and immediately after the presentation. Participants then received a reminder message regarding folic acid once a week for three weeks. Knowledge and multivitamin use were re-assessed four weeks post-intervention.

Results: Thirty-two college women voluntarily attended the oral presentation. Twenty-five women (78.2%) completed the four-week post-test. Compared to the pre-test, there were statistically significant increases in average test score (p<0.0001) and correct responses to questions regarding folic acid and NTD (p<0.05 for each question). Participants reported a statistically significant increase in regular (≥4 times/week) multivitamin use (p=0.023).

Conclusion: Participants in the pilot health promotion program demonstrated a statistically significant increase in knowledge about folic acid and frequency of multivitamin use. A similarly-modeled health promotion program may be an effective way of increasing folic acid and NTD knowledge and changing behaviors of multivitamin use in college women.