Parental Beliefs and Preventive Measures of Childhood Infectious Diseases in Hong Kong: A Theory-Driven Focus Group Study

TitleParental Beliefs and Preventive Measures of Childhood Infectious Diseases in Hong Kong: A Theory-Driven Focus Group Study
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Jiang, C. L., and M. M. - F. Cheung
Affiliation (1st Author)Department of Media and Communication, City University of Hong Kong
Section or WGHealth Communication and Change Working Group
DateSat 29 June
Slot CodeCHAS1a
Slot Code (Keyword)CHAS1a
Time of Session9:00-10:30
Session TitleSocial and Cultural Influences on Health Beliefs and Practices
Submission ID5732

Compared to other age groups for infectious diseases, young children have not developed enough to be able to control their own health behaviors. Instead, parents and other caregivers carry the major responsibility for disease prevention. While previous research mainly focuses on understanding the psychological, social, and behavioral facilitators and barriers in infectious disease control for the adult population, few studies have focused on how parents and other caregivers understand the risks of childhood infectious diseases and how they adopt different preventive measures in protection of young children. Drawing on the framework of expectancy-value theories, this study aims to investigate parents’ perceptions of childhood infectious diseases and assess their current practices of preventive measures in the context of Hong Kong, with the aim to provide useful information for designing and implementing tailored interventions for local health practices. Hong Kong was chosen as the research site for this study because of its unique cultural context. There is a modern medical system with government-funded clinics and hospitals offer "Western treatment and medicine." Yet, the existence of traditional beliefs makes people turn to Chinese herbal medicine and other alternative measures in some circumstance. The dense population and close interpersonal contact lead to aggressive spread of infectious diseases. The 2003 SARS epidemic and the 2009 N1H1 epidemic have caused a large number of morbidity and mortality, and have consequently contributed to great economic loss and social burden. This study particularly focuses on a number of infectious disease preventive behaviors suggested by the local published guideline (CHP, 2012b), including keeping good household and environmental hygiene, having children taking up corresponding vaccines, educating personal hygiene practices, and distancing from possible infection sources, etc. This study employs focus group interviews to obtain in-depth insight into parents’ perceptions about risks and prevention (Robinson, 1999). The framework of expectancy-value theories serves as our theoretical framework for structuring the three focus group interviews and analyzing the detailed focus group transcripts. The results suggest that the parental literacy on the issue of childhood infectious diseases was relatively limited and parents tend to underestimate the level of severity for those diseases identified as highly susceptible. Personal experience and information sources greatly contributed to their perception of susceptibility and severity. This study also found that participants paid great attention to household and personal hygiene control and parents’ value orientation are related to diseases prevention. Parents also demonstrated several paradoxical beliefs with regards to prevention efficacy. The results are discussed in lights of message and intervention design strategies for childhood infectious diseases.

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