Statement of Purpose Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injury among children under 15. We sought to understand fall risk concerns, practices, and strategies of parents with infants and young children.
Methods/Approach Parents of children under 18 months were recruited from an academic-based pediatric primary care clinic in Baltimore, MD to participate in telephone interviews. Parents were recruited into one of four strata to account for potential differences in concerns and strategies according to the number of young children (<5 years) in the home and type of home: 1) single level home with a single young child, 2) multi-level home with a single young child, 3) single level home with multiple young children, 4) multi-level home with multiple young children. During the interview, parents were asked about the places their child spends time throughout the day in their home. Parents were asked to describe the settings in detail, their fall concerns, prevention practices and strategies, and any fall experiences. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and coded.
Results A total of 16 parents completed interviews. Parents shared the following concerns: potential for their child to fall down the stairs, fall off furniture and fall climbing on cabinets and the countertop. Parent strategies to prevent falls focused primarily on four practices and strategies: 1) their ability to modify the in-home environment, 2) use of supervision, 3) enforcement of household rules, and 4) teaching independence. A few interviewees made statements about falls being unpreventable and occur due to a child’s temperament; there were mixed feelings on the effectiveness of rules to prevent falls.
Conclusions Parents expressed concerns about fall risks in the home and were actively trying to protect their kids from falls. Parents frequently referenced children’s temperament and development as issues that increased or reduced their fall risks and influenced their prevention strategies.
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