Objective: To evaluate the general population's awareness of stillbirth.
Design: A cross-sectional telephone population survey.
Setting: A nationally representative sample of the Irish adult population.
Sample: In all, 999 members of the Irish population were selected by random digit dialling.
Methods: Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Binary logistic regression was used to assess the odds of identifying risk factors for stillbirth.
Main outcome measures: Public knowledge of incidence, risk factors, causes and social awareness about stillbirth.
Results: Only a minority, 17%, of respondents correctly identified the incidence of stillbirth. Men and those aged over 45 years were more likely to say they did not know when a stillbirth occurs. Over half, 56% of respondents were unable to identify any stillbirth risk factors. Half of respondents, 53%, believed that the cause of stillbirth was due to a problem with the baby, 39% a problem with the mother, while 31% believed stillbirth occurred as a result of the care provided to the mother. The majority, 79%, believed that all stillbirths should be medically investigated, although women were more likely to suggest this (82% versus 76.4%; P=0.043). Stillbirth had been represented in traditional and online media for 75% of respondents and 54% said they personally knew someone who had a stillbirth.
Conclusions: There is a lack of public knowledge concerning the incidence, risk factors and causes of stillbirth. Improved public health initiatives and antenatal education are warranted to increase awareness of stillbirth risk factors and to improve care and monitoring during pregnancy.