5W Wednesday: 3X More Likely

Our 5W Wednesday series highlights a variety of health care organizations, professionals and programs that keep our community healthy.

What is 3X More Likely?
3X More Likely is an African American women’s health campaign created to increase awareness of racial disparities in infant mortality, preterm birth, and low birth weight and educate community members to help spread the word to women in the African American community about ways to prevent infant deaths and to keep themselves healthy.

3X More Likely‘s two-pronged approach utilized a billboard/busboard advertising campaign as well as the training of 20 community educators who would take what they learned back into the community, talking to the women about the importance of getting and staying healthy – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Community educators learned (among other things) about how stressors (such as domestic violence and racism) experienced throughout a woman’s lifetime can affect prenatal and infant health. While individuals may not be able to control all the stressors in their lives, women can combat the negative effects by taking control of their health and making positive changes like quitting smoking. Among other things, community educators handed out “It’s Your Call” cards, wallet-sized cards containing important resources for women that ranged from health clinic locations to a helpline number for those at risk of losing their home.

Why is this needed?
In Washtenaw County, black infants are 3 times more likely to die than white infants, and more than 2 times as likely to be born preterm or low birth weight. Many of these deaths and preterm births are preventable by helping all women stay healthier during their childbearing years, whether they are currently pregnant or not.

Washtenaw County data from the Fetal Infant Mortality Review was analyzed to see whether different issues around the baby and parents’ lifestyles and stressors may be contributing to infant mortality. In particular, stressors such as depression, domestic violence, substance abuse, obesity, and smoking were seen again and again. Infant mortality is usually thought of as affecting young teens with their first baby; however, the data showed that here in Washtenaw County women losing babies were older –  in their late 20s and 30s and on their fourth pregnancy on average.

Who is behind the 3X More Likely campaign?
3X More Likely was coordinated by the Washtenaw County Coalition for Infant Mortality Reduction (CIMR). CIMR’s goal is to reduce racial disparities in infant mortality and in low birth weight/premature delivery. The coalition, originally housed and overseen by Washtenaw Public Health, has been in existence for approximately six years. After state funding dried up, the coalition was taken over by Washtenaw Area Council for Children about two years ago. Although they lacked funding, coalition members continued to meet and talk about what could be done. They had the idea to train community educators and make women aware of the importance of being healthy throughout the lifespan.

When did the 3X More Likely campaign run?
CIMR was able to develop and run this campaign after receiving a REACH US grant from the Genesee County Health Department. REACH US is a federal grant that Genessee County has received for a number of years; last year they gave a portion of the funding to different counties around the state, including Washtenaw County. This funding was enough to get CIMR’s project into motion.

The campaign began in October of 2010 with a kick off event at the Washtenaw County Health Department, where members of their team of health educators, hair stylists and faith-based community members who are helping spread the word to women in the African American community about ways to prevent infant deaths and stay healthy, were introduced. The event also highlighted a free health insurance plan available to women ages 19-44 in Michigan called PLAN FIRST!, which gives income eligible women the opportunity to receive free family planning services.

Though REACH US funding for 3X More Likely ran out in March, the coalition is still actively meeting and is working on a second wave of the campaign that will focus on getting information directly to young women. Ideas include expanding the pool of community educators or working with EMU’s Association of Black Social Workers for peer-to-peer mentoring on the campus of Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College.  One project includes mirror clings designed for bathrooms in restaurants, clubs, and stores referring women to the 3X More Likely website.

Where can you find more information and resources?

  • Washtenaw County Health Resources:  List of local agencies and phone numbers to contact for assistance with a variety of health services, ranging from alcohol abuse, to emergency housing, to weight management.
  • 3X More Likely Fact Sheet:  A printer-friendly fact sheet of information on the 3X More Likely campaign.
  • A Healthy Baby Begins with You:  The Office of Minority Health’s national campaign to reduce infant mortality.
  • Healthy You Now:  A website community and online bimonthly magazine dedicated to supporting women of color on their journey to achieve an optimal lifestyle of health and wellness.
  • PLAN FIRST!:  Free health insurance plan available to women ages 19-44 in Michigan. Provides income-eligible women free family planning services such as clinic or gynecologist visits, pap smears, birth control prescriptions, contraceptive supplies and devices, lab tests and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Online Application for PLAN FIRST!
  • “When the Bough Breaks”:  Episode from the PBS series Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?, available at the Ann Arbor District Library.

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