This will never happen to my child! - Behavioural risk factors in children and parental perceived risk of disease
CPS ePoster Library. Drouin O. 06/01/17; 176598; 37
Dr. Olivier Drouin
Dr. Olivier Drouin
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Background: Many behavioural risk factors predispose children to chronic diseases later in life, including tobacco-smoke exposure (TSE), lack of regular dental care, and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). Adults tend to believe they are less susceptible than the average person to negative health outcomes, but little is known about how parents perceive their child's risk of developing diseases related to behavioural risk factors.

Objectives: To determine if a child's exposure to three common behavioural risk factors influences parental perception of the susceptibility of their child to related diseases.

Methods: Parents of children aged 0-18 years old attending a general paediatric primary care practice were asked about their child's TSE, frequency of dental appointments and consumption of SSB. The participant's children were divided in two categories (“at risk” vs “not at risk”), based on national guidelines. Participants were asked to evaluate their child's risk of developing each of three negative outcomes: child becoming a smoker, developing a new dental cavity, or gaining an inappropriate amount of weight. Participants were labeled as optimistic if they believed their child was less likely than other children to develop each adverse health outcome. Fisher's exact test and multivariate logistic regression models were used to determine the difference in perceived risk between the two groups.

Results: A total of 181 participants completed the data collection. Among them, 7% reported a smoker in the house, 17% that their child had not seen a dentist in the previous six months, and 38% that their children drank SSB once a day or more. For all three risk factors, participants with children “at risk” were as likely to be optimistic as participants in the “not at risk” category (85% vs 92% p=0.29 for TSE, 69% vs 71% p=0.99 for dental health, and 79% vs 89% p=0.13 for SSB). For each risk factor, after adjusting for socio-demographic factors, parents of children “at risk” remained as likely as parents of children “not at risk” to be optimistic about the related health outcomes (OR 1.15 [95% C.I.: 0.09-14.36] for TSE, OR 1.25 [95% C.I: 0.32-4.91] for lack of regular dental appointment and OR 0.40 [95%C.I.:0.11-1.46] for SSB consumption).

Conclusion: A majority of parents believed their child to be at a lower risk for adverse health outcomes than the average child, and this proportion did not differ significantly if their child was exposed to a known risk factor. For parents whose child is at risk, correction of this potentially falsely low perceived risk could help change behaviours.

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