Children's use of motor vehicle restraints: maternal psychological distress, maternal motor vehicle restraint practices, and sociodemographics

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; Child; *Child Behavior; Child, Preschool; Female; Humans; Infant; Male; Middle Aged; Mothers; Seat Belts; Socioeconomic Factors; Stress, Psychological; United States


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


OBJECTIVE: To determine the relative contribution of maternal psychological distress, maternal restraint use, and sociodemographic characteristics to the likelihood that a child would not be restrained in a motor vehicle.

METHODS: We examined data on 6251 children aged 0-17 years from the 1998 National Health Interview Survey. The level of children's motor vehicle restraint use (low vs high) was examined by maternal psychological distress and motor vehicle restraint use. Multivariate regression analyses were used to model the odds of children's low use of motor vehicle restraints, controlling for potential confounders.

RESULTS: According to maternal reports, more than 10% of children and nearly 13% of mothers reported low use of motor vehicle restraints. Multivariate analyses revealed that maternal use of restraints and psychological distress were both independently related to children's use of restraints, with maternal low use as the stronger correlate. Older children were more likely than younger children to be low users of motor vehicle restraints if the mother reported that she was a low user of restraints. Families with male children, black and Hispanic mothers, and 4 or more members reported lower use of restraints for their children.

CONCLUSIONS: Children's low use of motor vehicle restraints was associated with low levels of maternal motor vehicle restraint use and maternal psychological distress. Moreover, maternal motor vehicle restraint practices become increasingly important as children age. Health care providers should consider maternal motor vehicle restraint use, maternal psychological distress, and child age in addition to sociodemographics when assessing children's motor vehicle safety.

DOI of Published Version



Ambul Pediatr. 2006 May-Jun;6(3):145-51. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Ambulatory pediatrics : the official journal of the Ambulatory Pediatric Association

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID