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Increasing the Power of Information to Lessen Childhood Injury

The new study looked at information preferences for mothers of young children concerning car safety, poison prevention (and medicine safety caps) and bicycle injury.  

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 20, 2016) — A new study looks at how mothers gather information about childhood injuries — the leading cause of death for U.S. children. UAlbany health communication expert Jennifer Manganello, PhD, MPH, the paper’s lead author, says findings are designed to lead to improved dissemination of injury-prevention information to mothers.

Manganello co-led the study with Lara McKenzie, who is with the Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

UAlbany Jennifer Manganello

Jennifer Manganello of the School of Public Health (Photo by Mark Schmidt) 

The study, “Pediatric injury information seeking for mothers with young children: The role of health literacy and eHealth literacy,” published today in the Journal of Communication in Healthcare, is the first to examine injury information-seeking for a national sample of mothers. A group of 1,081 mothers with children under six years of age were surveyed over a 22-day period in 2013. The group, diverse by income race and ethnicity, were assessed for both health literacy and eHealth literacy.

Results indicated that the internet was the most preferred source for health information (used by 76% of respondents), followed by health providers (44%) and family/friends (35%). Yet for mothers with low eHealth literacy (28% of the group), health providers were the top information source. Those with low health literacy were more likely to have ever looked for injury information (73%) or discussed injury information with their doctor (55%).

“Dissemination of injury prevention information often focuses on academic literature rather than publicly accessible information sources” said Manganello. “Sharing information via traditional and new media is a potentially powerful way to educate parents about ways to prevent child injury.”

The authors state that providing more accessible and understandable information on the internet could help increase parental skills in assessing the risks of particular injuries to their children. They also write: “An important finding of this study is that those with lower skills prefer health providers as an information source, suggesting health providers should be considered a valuable resource for providing injury prevention information to families.”

In addition to Manganello, associate professor in UAlbany’s School of Public Health (SPH), the research team included McKenzie, a principal investigator at CIRP and an associate professor at The Ohio State University; Angela Falisi, MPH, a former UAlbany SPH student and currently a fellow at the National Cancer Institute; Kristin Roberts, a research project coordinator at CIRP, and Katherine Clegg Smith, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Funding for the study was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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