Childhood unintentional injury represents an important global health problem. Most of these injuries occur at home, and many are preventable. The main aim of this study was to identify key facilitators and barriers for parents in keeping their children safe from unintentional injury within their homes. A further aim was to develop an understanding of parents’ perceptions of what might help them to implement injury prevention activities.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with sixty-four parents with a child aged less than five years at parent’s homes. Interview data was transcribed verbatim, and thematic analysis was undertaken. This was a Multi-centre qualitative study conducted in four study centres in England (Nottingham, Bristol, Norwich and Newcastle).
Barriers to injury prevention included parents’ not anticipating injury risks nor the consequences of some risk-taking behaviours, a perception that some injuries were an inevitable part of child development, interrupted supervision due to distractions, maternal fatigue and the presence of older siblings, difficulties in adapting homes, unreliability and cost of safety equipment and provision of safety information later than needed in relation to child age and development. Facilitators for injury prevention included parental supervision and teaching children about injury risks. This included parents’ allowing children to learn about injury risks through controlled risk taking, using “safety rules” and supervising children to ensure that safety rules were adhered to. Adapting the home by installing safety equipment or removing hazards were also key facilitators. Some parents felt that learning about injury events through other parents’ experiences may help parents anticipate injury risks.
There are a range of barriers to, and facilitators for parents undertaking injury prevention that would be addressable during the design of home safety interventions. Addressing these in future studies may increase the effectiveness of interventions.