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J Health Commun. 2007 Dec;12(8):771-86.

Messages from moms: barriers to and facilitators of behavior change in a lead poisoning preventive education project.

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Children, Youth and Family Consortium, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.


Qualitative focus group data from participants of an intensive, culture-specific, lead poisoning preventive education research project were analyzed to assess success of communication strategies, and, specifically, to identify barriers to and facilitators of adopting behavior changes encouraged in the project. Effectiveness of education in preventing lead poisoning is addressed elsewhere. Education focused on housecleaning, hygiene, water, and nutrition. Ninety-five participants (89% of 107 eligible) of six ethnicities agreed to participate in focus groups. Seventy-eight (82%) actually attended. Barriers to behavior change included the effort required or unpleasantness of a prevention strategy, presentation of familiar information, denial of the problem, busyness, perceived lack of control, lack of social support, cultural traditions, and misunderstandings. Requiring one-time behavior changes; teaching simple, easy strategies; making less appealing tasks fun; demonstrating concepts; and presenting novel material that piques interest were features of the education that facilitated behavior change. Factors internal to the participant, such as love of the child or cultural practices, also served to motivate the participant to change behavior or to facilitate adoption of a prevention strategy. We offer recommendations to assist others in designing effective health education and risk communication prevention or intervention programs.

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