News Coverage of pediatric injury research: maternal understanding and engagement

Katherine Clegg Smith, Jennifer Manganello, Kristin Roberts, Roxanne Clark, Lara McKenzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Our objective was to examine mothers’ engagement with news coverage of pediatric injury research to inform effective mass communication of research findings that are crucial to enhancing mother’s efficacy to prevent childhood injury. Method: We conducted six focus groups with 49 mothers (with children <6 years); participants were shown three videos of news stories which presented pediatric injury research (on car seats, household poisoning, high chairs). After viewing each story, mothers completed recall and engagement questions and then discussed reactions to the injury content. We conducted a thematic analysis, guided by the constructs of the Health Belief Model. Results: Mothers were engaged with dangers presented; almost all (94–98%) recalled key information presented in the news stories, including the injury sustained, as well as the source and prevention guidelines or policies presented. Statistical information recall was less robust; only half recalled statistics presented in one story. Mothers were most interested in either the illustrative narrative or the injury statistics presented; fewer reported prioritizing preventive guidelines presented. Conclusions: In relation to the Health Belief model, specific narrative elements presented shaped engagement; in particular, story elements (type of family portrayed, use of statistics) appear influential in shaping whether injury research news stories will serve as cues to action for the intended audience. Although mothers expressed interest in seeing guidelines and recommendations on how to mitigate the injury hazard in each story, care should be taken to shape stories to enhance their perceptions of harm, susceptibility and preventive efficacy related to the specific injury presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-201
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Communication in Healthcare
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Wounds And injuries
  • communication
  • news
  • parents
  • prevention and control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Health Information Management


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