Understanding parent and caregiver perceptions of pediatric vehicular hyperthermia: implications for public health messaging from a pilot study (BMJ Injury Prevention)

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Pediatric vehicular hyperthermia (PVH) is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle-related death of children in the country. Public health messaging is an important mitigation strategy, yet it is difficult to assess the effectiveness in reducing deaths. Here, we seek to better understand parent/caregiver perceptions on PVH to guide risk communication.

Our findings indicate that, while on average, parents/caregivers did not consider themselves susceptible, they did acknowledge the severity of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. The results suggest that because of this low perceived susceptibility, parents/caregivers are less likely to take protective actions aimed at preventing these incidents from happening.

Public health messaging on PVH should emphasize the universal risk to all parents/caregivers so as to foster greater awareness of the need to take protective actions. Furthermore, engaging secondary audiences such as teachers and healthcare professionals can amplify this message and offer concrete behavioral interventions to mitigate the risk of forgetting a child in a car.

Read the Pediatric vehicular hyperthermia (PHV) study here.

Toddler in a white outfit sitting in a red car seat in the back seat of a vehicle.