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Understanding parental motivators and barriers to uptake of child poison safety strategies: a qualitative study
  1. L Gibbs1,
  2. E Waters1,
  3. J Sherrard2,
  4. J Ozanne-Smith2,
  5. J Robinson3,
  6. S Young4,
  7. A Hutchinson4
  1. 1School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Monash University Accident Research Centre, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Victorian Poisons Information Centre, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4Emergency Medicine, Royal Children’s Hospital, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr L F Gibbs
 School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood 3125 Victoria, Australia; lisa.gibbs{at}


Objectives: To develop an understanding of factors acting as barriers and motivators to parental uptake of child poison safety strategies.

Design: A qualitative study involving semistructured interviews and focus groups. A grounded theory approach was used for the collection and analysis of data.

Participants: Sixty five parents of children under 5 years of age, some of whom had experienced an unintentional child poisoning incident.

Results: A range of knowledge based, environmental, and behavioral barriers to comprehensive parental uptake of poison safety practices were identified. As a result there tended to be only partial implementation of safety initiatives in the home. Selection of safety practices was often guided by the interests and behaviors of the child. This made the child vulnerable to changes in the home environment, inadequate supervision, and/or shifts in their own behavior and developmental ability. Personal or vicarious exposure of a parent to a child poisoning incident was a significant motivator for parental review of safety practices.

Conclusion: Environmental measures targeting child resistant containers, warning labels, and lockable poisons cupboards will support parents’ efforts to maintain poison safety. Additional education campaigns using stories of actual poisoning incidents may help to increase awareness of risk and encourage increased uptake.

  • CRC, child resistant container
  • RCHED, Royal Children’s Hospital Emergency Department
  • VPIC, Victorian Poisons Information Centre
  • child
  • poisoning
  • unintentional
  • qualitative

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