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9/24/2018  |   10:00 AM - 10:30 AM   |  Diamond Ballroom I

CMV Awareness – What are we Really Measuring?

Even though CMV infection in mothers is preventable, most people are not familiar with the virus. Levels of CMV awareness amongst women in the general population range from 9%-20%, globally, as measured by self-reported responses to questionnaires. Some studies have shown a statistically significant increase in women’s awareness with higher levels of education, or work experience in health care. However, most work on CMV knowledge likely overestimates cCMV awareness levels for two main reasons. Firstly, participants often exaggerate responses in self-report studies. Social desirability bias describes the tendency for survey respondents to answer questions in a way that would be viewed favorably by others, such as indicating awareness of a condition for which they actually have no knowledge. Secondly, awareness is a subjective form of knowledge, and can mean different things to different people. For example, a research participant may have heard of CMV, or recognize it from a list of chronic health conditions, yet be unable to identify the detrimental effects of a congenital infection on a newborn, or modes of CMV transmission. In other words, participants may be aware of CMV, but their demonstrated understanding of CMV is inadequate to prevent infection while pregnant. Demonstrated understanding is thus a higher-level, objective form of knowledge. Most previous work on cCMV knowledge describes only awareness levels of cCMV, even though women who reported being aware of CMV could not identify modes of CMV transmission or clinical outcomes of a congenital infection. We present a systematic review of CMV awareness data and suggest a new metric for assessing demonstrated understanding of CMV. It is not enough that women of childbearing age are aware of cCMV; they must also demonstrate understanding of the health risks of cCMV in order for public health interventions to be successful.

  • Discuss CMV awareness studies in US and abroad
  • Define CMV awareness vs demonstrated understanding of CMV
  • Identify how demonstrated understanding of CMV will improve public health outcomes

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Kathleen Muldoon (Primary Presenter), kmuldo@midwestern.edu;
Dr. Muldoon received her PhD (Anthropology) from Washington University in St. Louis. She is Associate Professor of Anatomy at Midwestern University, Glendale, AZ, where she teaches anatomy and embryology to medical and allied health students. Dr. Muldoon maintains several distinct areas of scholarly research, including anatomy education with interest in the effectiveness of teaching innovations on knowledge retention and public health knowledge. Her research interests include evaluating methods for prevention of congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection through professional education, and promotion of CMV awareness and behavioral interventions in the community. Dr. Muldoon's research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, and American Philosophical Society, among others. She has given research seminars and outreach workshops nationally and internationally. Her work has been featured on National Public Radio. Dr. Muldoon is the proud mother of three children: her four-year-old son has multiple disabilities due to congenital CMV.

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Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists.


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Seth Dobson (Co-Presenter,Co-Author), seth.dobson@gmail.com;
Seth Dobson received his PhD in biological anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis in 2006. He was assistant professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College from 2007 to 2014. Dr. Dobson is now a senior data analyst at Discover Financial Services.

      ASHA DISCLOSURE:

Financial -

Nonfinancial -


      AAA DISCLOSURE:

Financial - No relevant financial relationship exists.