Young children's perceptions of fire-safety messages: Do framing and parental mediation matter?

Dina Borzekowski, Elizabeth Clearfield, Rajiv Rimal, Andrea Gielen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Media can deliver health and safety messages promoting child health and injury prevention. This study examined the effects of message framing and parental mediation on children's perceptions of fire-safety messages. Using a 2 × 3 randomized experimental design, this study considered both message framing (gain or loss) and parental mediation (no mediation/control, unscripted, or scripted) with 320 children who were 4 and 5 years of age. Children saw two messages (burn and smoke inhalation) embedded in a cartoon. Afterward, researchers assessed children's recall, understanding, and perceptions of self-efficacy and social norms. Children were more likely to recall the safety messages if they were older (burn: adjusted odds ration [AOR] = 2.74 and smoke: AOR = 2.58), and could recall the smoke inhalation message if they had unscripted mediation (AOR = 3.16). Message understanding was poor, with only about 50% of children choosing a correct behavior in a similar scenario. For the burn message, correct understanding was associated with gain-framing and scripted mediation (AOR = 3.22 and 5.77, respectively). Only the scripted mediation group was significantly associated with an increase in perceived social norms (burn: coefficient =.37 and smoke: coefficient =.55; P <.001. Gain-framing was associated with increased odds of self-efficacy for both behaviors (burn: AOR = 1.77 and smoke: AOR = 1.77). Messages that show positive outcomes combined with scripted parental mediation appear most effective in communicating safety behaviors, but the overall effectiveness of video-based messages to teach children safety behaviors needs to be enhanced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-312
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Burn Care and Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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