J3.1 Turning up the Heat on Parents and Caregivers: Risk Perceptions of Forgetting a Child in a Hot Car

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 8:30 AM
Room 228/229 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Castle Adam Williams, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; and A. J. Grundstein

In the United States alone, about 37 young children die every year due to pediatric vehicle-related hyperthermia (PVRH). Various governmental and child safety advocacy groups have worked to raise awareness about these tragedies occurring across the country. The effectiveness of this public health messaging may be refined with a better understanding of the perceptions and knowledge of parents and caregivers of young children regarding PVRH. A sample of 25 parents and caregivers in Athens-Clarke County were interviewed to determine their current knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and risk perceptions of forgetting a child in a hot car. Participants were recruited from local childcare facilities and included people from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Participants were asked interview questions that were guided by elements of the Health Belief Model to better understand perceptions of susceptibility and severity of forgetting a child in a hot car. Overall, most of the parents and caregivers recognized the risks and the severity associated with both intentionally leaving and forgetting a child in a hot car. Even though many of the participants possessed ample knowledge and considered this a serious hazard, most did not believe that they could forget their own child in the back seat of a car. This lack of perceived susceptibility serves as a barrier, preventing parents and caregivers from implementing preventative measures into their daily routines. These results are most applicable to the development of future public health messaging focused on preventing the cases (about 50%) where a parent or caregiver forgets their child in the back seat of a car, by emphasizing that every parent and caregiver is equally susceptible to forgetting their child in a hot car.
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