Objective To describe bottled water use and beliefs and attitudes about water among parents of children from different racial/ethnic groups.
Design Cross-sectional survey.
Setting Urban/suburban emergency department.
Participants Parents of children treated between September 2009 and March 2010.
Main Outcome Measures The respondents completed a questionnaire in English or Spanish, describing their use of bottled water and tap water for their children and rating their agreement with a series of belief statements about bottled water and tap water. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between bottled water use and beliefs and demographic characteristics with odds ratios (ORs).
Results A total of 632 surveys were completed (35% white, 33% African American, and 32% Latino respondents). African American and Latino parents were more likely to give their children mostly bottled water; minority children were exclusively given bottled water 3 times more often than non-Latino white children (24% vs 8%, P < .01). In logistic regression analysis, the following factors were independently associated with mostly bottled water use: belief that bottled water is safer (OR, 2.4), cleaner (OR, 2.0), better tasting (OR, 2.8), or more convenient (OR, 1.7). After other factors were adjusted for, race/ethnicity, household income, and prior residence outside the United States were not associated with bottled water use.
Conclusions Minority parents are more likely to exclusively give bottled water to their children. Disparities in bottled water use are driven largely by differences in beliefs and perceptions about water. Interventions to reduce bottled water use among minority families should be based on knowledge of the factors that are related to water use in these communities.