How young people communicate risks of snowmobiling in northern Norway: a focus group study

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Mehus, Grete ; Germeten, Sidsel ; Henriksen, Nils (2012)
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: International Journal of Circumpolar Health (issn: 1797-237X, eissn: 1239-9736)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/ijch.v70i2.17807
  • Subject: snowmobiling, risk, communication, focus group, injury prevention

Objectives. This study aims to understand how the risks of snowmobiling are communicated among northern Norwegian youths. Study design. A qualitative design with focus group interviews was chosen. Interviews centred on safety precautions and estimation of risks related to snowmobiling and driving patterns. Methods. Eighty-one students (31 girls and 50 boys) aged between 16 and 23 years from 8 high schools were interviewed in 17 focus groups that were segregated by gender. Interview data were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Results. Boys and girls communicated differently about risks. Peer-group conformity appeared stronger among boys than girls. Boys did not spontaneously relate risks to their snowmobile activities, while girls did. Boys focused upon training, coping and balance between control and lack of control while driving. Girls talked about risks, were aware of risks and sought to avoid risky situations, in contrast to boys. Boys’ risk communication in groups was about how to manage challenging situations. Their focus overall was on trying to maintain control while simultaneously testing their limits. Three risk categories emerged: those who drive as they ought to (mostly girls), those who occasionally take some risks (boys and girls) and those who are extreme risk-takers (a smaller number of boys). Conclusions. Perceptions of and communication about risk are related to gender, peer group and familiarity with risk-taking when snowmobiling. Northern Norwegian boys’ driving behaviour highlights a specific need for risk reduction, but this must also draw upon factors such as acceptance of social and cultural codes and common sense related to snowmobiling.(Int J Circumpolar Health 2011; 70(2):205–214)Keywords: snowmobiling, risk, communication, focus group, injury prevention
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