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Understanding reasons for non-compliance in motorcycle helmet use among adolescents in Greece
  1. E Germeni1,
  2. C Lionis2,
  3. B Davou3,
  4. E Th Petridou1,4
  1. 1
    Center for Research and Prevention of Injuries (CEREPRI), Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, Athens University Medical School, Athens, Greece
  2. 2
    Clinic of Social and Family Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Crete, Crete, Greece
  3. 3
    Laboratory for Psychological Applications and Communication Planning, Department of Communication and Media Studies, University of Athens, Athens, Greece
  4. 4
    Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Professor E Th Petridou, Center for Research and Prevention of Injuries (CEREPRI), Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, Athens University Medical School, 75, Mikras Asias str, 115 27 Athens, Greece; epetrid{at}med.uoa.gr

Abstract

Objective: To explore attitudes towards two-wheel motorized vehicle (TWMV) helmet use among adolescents in a country with poor legal compliance.

Design: Self-administered questionnaires were completed by 523 high school students to define the sample of a qualitative study; thereafter, the Health Belief Model (HBM) was applied in 12 focus groups comprising 70 students.

Setting: Three randomly selected public secondary schools in middle-income areas of Athens, Greece.

Results: Students reporting frequent helmet use were characterized by a high perceived threat of a TWMV-related injury, which seemed to be associated with both prior experience of an injury and receiving information on helmet wearing from “significant others.” Students reporting helmet non-use were characterized by a low threat perception, possibly attributable to adolescent egocentrism and accompanying feelings of invulnerability or to lack of knowledge and experience in risk identification. A sharp contrast was noted regarding the most important perceived benefit of helmet use, expressed among users as “protection in the case of a road crash” and among non-users as “avoiding tickets from traffic police”. Main barriers to helmet use, as identified by non-users, included: low perceived efficacy of helmets; peer pressure; lack of appropriate information on helmet use; high helmet cost; lack of convenience; vision and hearing disturbance; and style reasons.

Conclusions: When social norms of low compliance to safety laws prevail, qualitative research can assist in developing tailored educational interventions targeting behavior modification among adolescents.

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None.

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