Maternal worries, home safety behaviors, and perceived difficulties

J Nurs Scholarsh. 2008;40(2):137-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.2008.00218.x.


Purpose: The aim of the study was to explore the worries, safety behaviors, and perceived difficulties in keeping children safe at home in a purposive sample of low-income, predominantly non-English speaking mothers as a foundation for later nursing interventions.

Design: This study was a qualitative, descriptive design with content analysis to identify maternal concerns, behaviors, and perceptions of home safety as part of a larger study.

Methods: Eighty-two mothers, 64% of whom were monolingual Spanish-speakers, responded in writing to three semistructured interview questions. When mothers were unable to read and write the researcher wrote the responses, then read the content aloud for verification. A standardized probe for each question was posed to obtain richer responses. Data management included use of the software program NUD*IST and coding analyses following the Miles and Huberman guidelines (1994). Interpretations were translated into English for this report.

Findings: The major worries were falling, health, kidnapping, and being hit by a car. The leading maternal behaviors were coded as being physically, verbally, and environmentally preventive. Mothers said that it was their role to provide safety, and that this role could be wearisome, such that constant supervision was difficult.

Conclusions: Low-income mothers described their worries for their 1 to 4 year-old children, explored their behaviors for preventing injury, and discussed what made keeping children from harm difficult. Understanding how mothers keep children safe, the barriers to home safety, and effective safety behaviors are important to the health of children.

Clinical relevance: The clinical relevance of this study includes building trust as clinicians plan assessment, intervention and evaluation of home safety to encourage dialog about concerns, safety behaviors, and barriers to keeping children from injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child Welfare / ethnology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mexican Americans* / psychology
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting / ethnology*
  • Poverty
  • Safety*
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • Texas