Peel Region Public Health

Mississauga, Canada

Peel Region Public Health

Mississauga, Canada

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Laferriere K.A.,University of Ottawa | Crighton E.J.,University of Ottawa | Baxter J.,University of Western Ontario | Lemyre L.,University of Ottawa | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Risk Research | Year: 2014

Young children are more highly exposed and vulnerable to environmental health hazards than adults due to a variety of physiological and behavioural factors. Despite the significant responsibility mothers typically bear in managing their children’s health, little is known about how they perceive and negotiate these risks in their day-to-day lives. To better understand mothers’ environmental health risk perceptions and associated protective actions across socio-economic and geographic contexts, a telephone survey was conducted among new mothers (n = 606) recruited through two Public Health Units in Ontario, Canada. Analyses revealed that approximately half of the respondents were moderately or highly concerned about environmental health risks, ranging in nature from household products to outdoor air contaminants. Factors affecting the likelihood of experiencing concern included lower income and lower levels of perceived control. With regard to protective actions, 43% reported taking three or more actions to reduce environmental health risks to their children, with the likelihood of taking action being negatively affected by factors including low income and first language other than English or French, and positively affected by being a first-time parent (primiparous). This study contributes to our understanding of environmental health risk perceptions and associated protective behaviours among new mothers, and has implications for the development of more context-focused risk management and communication strategies. © 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis


Crighton E.J.,University of Ottawa | Brown C.,University of Ottawa | Baxter J.,University of Western Ontario | Lemyre L.,University of Ottawa | And 2 more authors.
Health, Risk and Society | Year: 2013

There is a growing awareness and concern in contemporary societies about potential health impacts of environmental contaminants on children. Mothers are traditionally more involved than other family members in managing family health and household decisions and thus targeted by public health campaigns to minimise risks. However little is known about how new mothers perceive and experience environmental health risks to their children. In 2010, we undertook a parallel case study using qualitative, in-depth interviews with new mothers and focus groups with public health key informants in two Public Health Units in Ontario Province, Canada. We found that the concern about environmental hazards among participants ranged from having no concerns to actively incorporating prevention into daily life. Overall, there was a common perception among participants that many risks, particularly in the indoor environment, were controllable and therefore of little concern. But environmental risks that originate outside the home were viewed as less controllable and more threatening. In response to such threats, mothers invoked coping strategies such as relying on the capacity of children's bodies to adapt. Regardless of the strategies adopted, actions (or inactions) were contingent upon active information seeking. We also found an optimistic bias in which new mothers reported that other children were at greater risk despite similar environmental circumstances. The findings suggest that risk communication experts must attend to the social and environmental contexts of risk and coping when designing strategies around risk reducing behaviours. © 2013 Copyright © 2013 The Author(s). Published by RoutledgeThis is an Open Access article. Non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly attributed, cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way, is permitted. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.

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