Randomized trial of a physician-based intervention to increase the use of folic acid supplements among women
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OBJECTIVE: Fewer than one third of American women take folic acid daily, although many women report that they would take folic acid if their physicians advised them to do so. This study determined the impact of a physician intervention during routine gynecologic visits on folic acid supplementation. STUDY DESIGN: Patients were assigned randomly to receive brief folic acid counseling, a reminder phone call, and 30 folic acid tablets (n = 162 women; intervention group) or to receive counseling about other preventive health behaviors and a folic acid informational pamphlet (n = 160 women; control group). Self-reported folic acid use was compared at baseline and at 2 months. RESULTS: Of the 279 patients who completed the study, weekly folic acid intake increased in the intervention group by 68%, compared with 20% in the control group ( P =.008). No significant differences were found in daily intake. The women who were most influenced by the intervention were black and lower income and not planning pregnancies. CONCLUSION: With little effort expended to encourage folic acid use, gynecologists could potentially reduce the risk of folate-preventable birth defects among their patients by as much as 11%.
author list (cited authors)
Robbins, J. M., Cleves, M. A., Collins, H. B., Andrews, N., Smith, L. N., & Hobbs, C. A.