Date of Conferral





Health Services


Harold Griffin


The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to examine the etiology of water quality perceptions and beverage preferences of Black children and adolescents, which addressed a current gap in the literature on this topic. This study was guided by Festinger's social comparison theory, which supports the notion that children and adolescents' perceptions and preferences are influenced by their social network and those with whom they have a close association. In this study, children and adolescents' water quality perceptions were examined as well as the development and factors affecting those perceptions. Whether social factors such as peer or parental influence have an impact on children and adolescents' beverage consumption were also investigated. The study participants (n = 20) were recruited from two cities in a Midwestern state for semi-structured interviews from which information was coded into themes. Participants who met the inclusion criteria were Black youths between the ages of 9 to 18 years. The data were analyzed using latent content analysis with open and axial coding.The key findings in this study indicated that Black youths had negative perceptions of tap water quality and positive perceptions of bottled water, and stronger preferences for sugar-sweetened beverages than for water. These perceptions and preferences emanated from their parents and were also influenced by their peers, tastes, and the social environment. This study's implications suggest the need for improved health literacy through programs that educate participants in making informed decisions to impact the quality of health; this will also increase the overall health of society in terms of productivity and economic growth.