A test of protection-motivation theory for promoting injury control

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


The present study evaluated the relationship between parental attitudes and their injury preventive efforts related to bicycle-related head injuries. Specifically, the present study assessed the contribution of components of Protection Motivation Theory (PMT; severity, vulnerability, response-efficacy, self-efficacy, response-cost) in persuading parents to engage in the preventive action of purchasing a bicycle helmet. Participants were 69 parents of elementary school-aged children. Parents were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions: a PMT/low RC group (n = 18), a PMT/high RC group (n= 18), a No Information/low RC group (n = 17), and a No Information/high RC group (n = 16). As such, parents either received a PMT-based informational message regarding bicycling head injuries or they received no information. Similarly, parents in both of these conditions either received a discount coupon for a bicycle helmet or they received no coupon. Parents' intentions to purchase a bike helmet for their child as well as their actual purchases were assessed. Overall, regardless of experimental group, parents reported similar perceptions of severity, vulnerability, response-efficacy, self-efficacy and response-costs associated with bicycle head injuries and helmets. Neither the receipt of PMT-based information nor the availability of discount coupons resulted in parents' increased intentions to purchase or actual purchases of bicycle helmets for their child. Rather, parents generally reported that they were fairly likely to purchase a bicycle helmet for their child, yet few had done so at the time of the home visit. The most notable finding involved the failure of parents' intentions to purchase a bicycle helmet for their child to predict their actual purchasing behavior. Limitations of the present study and directions for future research are discussed.