Predictors of risk perceptions of childhood injury among parents of preschoolers

Health Educ Q. 1991 Fall;18(3):285-301. doi: 10.1177/109019819101800303.


This article assesses the relationship between parents' perceived risk of childhood injuries and familial, sociocultural, and situational variables. Data were obtained through a random digit dial telephone survey of 1,200 households with a preschool child in a southeastern metropolitan area. Perceived risks of childhood injury measures were based on social science theory and childhood injury epidemiology. Multiple item measures included dimensions of seriousness and likelihood for both injuries and hazards. When risk perceptions were viewed as individual items, parents underestimated the risk of some hazards and injuries and overestimated the risks of others, and parents whose children have sustained a recent injury had higher risk perception overall. When risk perceptions were viewed as summed scales, sociodemographic variables and parental safety behaviors were not significant predictors. Sociocultural factors of having a child previously injured, the parent reporting stress, having a household with self-reported risk factors, and the perception of the child as active and hard to manage are related to summed scales of risk perceptions, with some interactions by race of the parent. Findings illustrate the role of situational and sociocultural characteristics of respondents in risk perception research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mothers*
  • Risk*
  • South Carolina / epidemiology
  • Stress, Physiological / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology