In 2015 in the U.S., there were an estimated 57 026 ER visits among children <6 years of age for unintentional medicine poisoning. The majority of these involved unsupervised exposure and about 16% resulting in hospitalization. To better understand what might contribute to these events, we explored parents’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior related to safe storage of medicine. A national online survey of 2 000 parents of children <6 years of age was commissioned. Outcome variables included overall safe storage of medicine, safe storage of frequently used medicines and use of pill minders. Bivariate associations were tested for each of the outcomes and demographic variables of interest. Regression analyses were conducted selecting the demographic variables with a bivariate association at the p<0.05 level. Behavioral outcomes were modeled using logistic regression. Attitudes and knowledge were modeled using linear regression. While most parents surveyed knew to store medicine up and away, out of sight and reach, their reported behavior was not always consistent with knowledge, particularly for frequently used medicines, where parents appeared to choose convenience over caution. Findings also suggest parents may underestimate their child’s level of risk and ability to access medicine. Predictors of safe storage included parent age and gender, number of children, attitudes supporting safe storage, safe storage knowledge and community setting (rural, suburban, urban). Given the disconnect found between parental knowledge and behavior, educational efforts should address specific scenarios where convenience is being selected over caution, as well as clearly specifying what up and away and out of sight and reach means. The regression analyses provide guidance on groups at greater risk due to unsafe storage who might benefit from targeted messaging, however further research is needed to understand the impact of community setting.
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