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Cytomegalovirus, Attitudes, Hispanic, Prevention, Subjective norms, Women

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Background: Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is the most common intrauterine infection. The only way to protect against congenital CMV infection is to practice CMV prevention behaviors. CMV seroprevalence rates are high in Hispanic women. It is unknown whether communication strategies should differ by ethnicity. The purpose of this study was to understand differences between U.S. Hispanic and non-Hispanic women’s attitudes toward CMV prevention behaviors and examine the relationship between perceived subjective norms and these attitudes.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study using an online panel. Participants were U.S. women of childbearing age. The dependent variable was attitude toward practicing CMV prevention behaviors, specifically avoiding sharing cups, food, and utensils with a child and not kissing a child on the lips.

Results: Among 818 women (50% Hispanic), 16.8% of Hispanic women and 9.7% of non-Hispanic women (p = 0.002) reported familiarity with CMV. Attitudes toward CMV prevention through avoiding sharing behaviors (M Hispanic  = 5.55 vs. M non-Hispanic = 5.20; p = 0.002) and not kissing a child on the lips (M Hispanic  = 4.80 vs. M non-Hispanic  = 4.21; p = 0.001) were positive for both ethnicities, but higher for Hispanic women. Hispanic women (M = 5.11) reported higher perceived behavioral control for avoiding kissing a child on the lips than non-Hispanic women (M = 4.63; p = 0.001). Hispanic women who were U.S. born or spoke English primarily more frequently kissed a child on the lips or engaged in sharing behaviors. Additionally, those who spoke Spanish mostly held more positive attitudes toward not kissing on the lips. Significant predictors for more positive attitudes toward CMV prevention behaviors were associated with perceived subjective norms, perceived behavioral control and pre-survey participation in risk behaviors.

Conclusions: Hispanic women have more positive attitudes toward CMV prevention behaviors than non-Hispanic women, however in regression models other factors are more important predictors of positive attitudes than ethnicity. In developing strategies to encourage women to practice CMV prevention behaviors, a focus on further understanding and increasing subjective norms and perceived control over those behaviors may be warranted.

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, v. 18, art. 181