Health Promotion Journal of Australia Health Promotion Journal of Australia Society
Journal of the Australian Health Promotion Association

"But they can't reach that high...": parental perceptions and knowledge relating to childhood poisoning

Michael Rosenberg, Lisa Wood, Melita Leeds and Sue Wicks

Health Promotion Journal of Australia 22(3) 217 - 222
Published: 2011


Issue addressed: Preventing childhood poisoning is an important injury-control priority, requiring a multi-strategy approach. However, there remains a wide void between what is recommended by prevention programs and the evidence, and what is acted upon in the day-to-day family environment. This paper seeks to probe behind aspects of this void by examining parental perceptions in relation to childhood poisoning within a Health Belief Model framework. Methods: Data were collected through telephone interviews from 200 randomly selected Western Australian parents/guardians of children aged 0-4 years. Results: The uptake of poisoning prevention strategies was associated with the perceived susceptibility and seriousness of poisoning from different common household products. In particular, those products considered most fatally poisonous (workshop/garden chemicals) and a common cause of childhood poisoning were the most likely to be locked up and kept out of reach of children. Conversely, over-the-counter medicines were not considered by the majority of parents as fatally poisonous or as a common cause of poisoning, and were less likely to be locked up and placed out of reach. However, such medicines are the most common cause of unintentional childhood poisoning. Conclusion: The results suggest that perceptions of susceptibility and seriousness need to be targeted as part of efforts to encourage parents to reduce household risks of childhood poisoning. This is particularly warranted in relation to those common household products (e.g. medicines) where there is a misperception of lower likelihood of serious poisoning occurring. Key words: poisons, prevention, children, health belief model, health promotion

© Australian Health Promotion Association 2011

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