247513 Teaching children fire safety through symbolic modeling on videos: Effects of message framing and parental mediation

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 11:10 AM

Rajiv N. Rimal, PhD , Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Andrea C. Gielen, ScD, ScM , Department of Health, Behavior & Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Dina L.G. Borzekowski, EdD , Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Elizabeth M. Clearfield , Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Jessie Parker , Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Objectives. To determine joint effects of message framing and parental mediation on children's learning.

Background. Fire- and burn-related accidents harm more than 100,000 children annually. It is not known whether messages should be framed positively (safe behaviors, positive outcomes) or negatively (unsafe behaviors, negative outcomes) to teach young children protective behaviors.

Methods. Using a community sample, a 2 (message frame: positive, negative) x 3 (parental mediation: none, unscripted, scripted) between-subjects experiment was conducted among 321 parent-child pairs (children's age range 6-9 years), randomly assigning them to one of six conditions. After video screening and parent-child discussions, children were asked what they would do in the event of a fire or burn injury. Correct responses were standardized and averaged into an index (alpha=.62).

Results. Message frame manipulations were successful (Ps<.001). ANCOVA models (controlling for demographic and psychosocial predictors) showed positive messages were most effective F(1,301)=12.37, P<.001. Parental mediation was most effective when parents were given specific discussion guidelines, F(2,301)=16.08, P<.001. A framingXmediation interaction, F(2,301)=3.88, P<.05, showed negative messages were least effective for the unguided mediation group. Conclusions. Children learned best when messages were framed positively and when parents were provided specific discussion guidelines. Learning was suppressed when parents communicated, without written guidelines, with children who had seen negatively framed messages. It is not adequate to simply ask parents to “talk to your child,” as many interventions do. Rather, parents must be provided specific guidelines on how to do so, particularly if children are exposed to negative messages in their symbolic environment.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. To discuss how to conduct laboratory-based experiments with a community-based sample. 2. To identify the most effective message features for communicating with young children. 3. To demonstrate effective parent-child communication techniques for teaching young children.

Keywords: Children, Injury Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the research and wrote the findings.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.