Background News coverage of injury research appears to be a useful way to disseminate critical paediatric injury information and recommendations. Yet, little is known about how and whether or not parents access news articles and understand them.
Methods Data were collected from a nationally representative sample of n = 1,081 mothers of children <6 years using an online survey. Respondents answered questions about media and Internet use, health and injury information sources, and socio-demographic characteristics. Participants viewed two injury news stimuli and were asked a series of questions.
Results The majority of participants preferred to use the Internet as the first choice for injury information although this varied by topic; 64% bicycle helmets, 63% car safety seats, and 48% poison prevention. When compared to mothers with more than a high school education, those with high school or less were less likely to list Internet and more likely to list health care providers, or friends/family as their first choice for information about bicycle helmets (p = 0.007), car sears (p = 0.012), and poison prevention (p < 0.0001). When compared to mothers who identify has Black/African American, mothers who identify as White or Asian were more likely to list the Internet as their first choice for information about car seats. Mothers who identified as Black/African American were more likely to list the news media as their first choice for information about car seats (p = 0.001). Despite frequent Internet use, 65% reported hearing little or nothing about injury research in the media in the past month, and 60% reported ever looking for information on injury prevention for themselves or their family.
Conclusions Findings suggest that the Internet may be an effective way to disseminate messages, including news stories, about injury prevention. While it is clear that many mothers have the potential to access injury prevention messages that are covered by the news media or are available through various internet sources, we need to learn more about attention to messages, as well as the ability to understand messages they may read, view, or hear. Future research should focus on media effects to study the link between exposure to news media and injury outcomes, and to expand the work to all caregivers (not just mothers).
- media use
- news media
- health literacy
- eHealth literacy