Parental Perceptions, Risks, and Incidence of Pediatric Unintentional Injuries

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More than 9,000 children die annually from various causes of unintentional injury. Of all the pediatric unintentional injuries occurring in the United States, 8.7 million are treated in emergency departments, and 225,000 require hospitalization annually. Health education programs are available to address these injuries. The objective of this research was to examine the distribution of self-reported high priority injury risks in an urban Midwestern pediatric level 1 trauma center and investigate the relationship between parental perceptions and injury-prevention behaviors. Prevalence rates for 3 data sources are compared.


Missouri Information for Community Assessment (MICA) was categorized to mirror variables corresponding with risks of injury presented in the Safe ‘n’ Sound (SNS) program. Level 1 trauma center data were examined to determine how the variables were distributed compared with MICA data and with the parent-reported levels.


A total of 429 SNS surveys were compared with ED data and MICA data. For SNS users, car crashes were identified as the highest risk, specifically due to the use of incorrect car seats. The injuries seen most often in the emergency department were falls, and falls were also the most prevalent injury captured by MICA. Controlling for demographics, parental perceptions predicted several risks for injury.


Because parental perceptions are significantly related to risks of injury, prevention programs aiming to decrease injuries could focus on the perceptions. Not only can perceptions be used to tailor health communication materials, these perceptions can be the targets of change. Further work might investigate the extent to which changes in perceptions result in increased adoption of safety practices.

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