The influence of parental health beliefs on child restraint practices in a regional centre in Queensland
Since March 2010 in Queensland, legislation has specified the type of restraint and seating row for child passengers under 7 years according to age. The following study explored regional parents‟ child restraint practices and the influence of their health beliefs over these. A brief intercept interview was verbally administered to a convenience sample of parent-drivers (n = 123) in Toowoomba in February 2010, after the announcement of changes to legislation but prior to enforcement. Parents who agreed to be followed-up were then reinterviewed after the enforcement (May-June 2010). The Health Beliefs Model was used to gauge beliefs about susceptibility to crashing, children being injured in a crash, and likely severity of injuries. Self-efficacy and perceptions about barriers to, and benefits of, using age-appropriate restraints with children, were also assessed. Results: There were very high levels of rear seating reported for children (initial interview 91%; follow-up 100%). Dedicated child restraint use was 96.9% at initial interview, though 11% were deemed inappropriate for the child‟s age. Self-reported restraint practices for children under 7 were used to categorise parental practices into „Appropriate‟ (all children in age-appropriate restraint and rear seat) or „Inappropriate‟ (≥1 child inappropriately restrained). 94% of parents were aware of the legislation, but only around one third gave accurate descriptions of the requirements. However, 89% of parents were deemed to have „Appropriate‟ restraint practices. Parents with „Inappropriate‟ practices were significantly more likely than those with „Appropriate‟ practices to disagree that child restraints provide better protection for children in a crash than adult seatbelts. For self-efficacy, parents with „Appropriate‟ practices were more likely than those with „Inappropriate‟ practices to report being „completely confident‟ about installing child restraints. The results suggest that efforts to increase the level of appropriate restraint should attempt to better inform them about the superior protection offered by child restraints compared with seat belts for children.