Is an emergency department encounter for a motor vehicle collision truly a teachable moment?

Although emergency departments (ED) rarely emphasize preventative care for patients, some ED screening and counseling programs have proved to be successful in modifying risky behaviors. The ED experience itself may also be enough to encourage positive changes. This study investigates if a pediatric emergency department (PED) visit for a child following a motor vehicle collision (MVC) can prompt a greater change in booster seat use compared with a child presenting for non–injury-related complaints. A prospective pilot study was conducted at the PED of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Children aged 4 years to 8 years old who never used a booster seat and were in a minor MVC were compared with children presenting to the PED for non–injury-related complaints. A total of 67 children were enrolled in the study: 37 in the MVC group and 30 in the control group. Parents completed a survey of demographics and knowledge about booster seats before receiving brief, standardized counseling about booster seats. Participants were called two weeks after the PED visit to obtain follow-up information regarding parental changes in attitude and self-reported use of booster seats. In the initial contact, 97% of the children used a seat belt alone and 3% were unrestrained. Significantly more families in the MVC group claimed that they would get a booster seat after their PED encounter and their child would consistently use a booster seat. Forty-five families were reached in the follow-up. Findings showed that there was no significant difference between the MVC and control groups in having a booster seat at follow-up and in consistent booster seat use. These results indicate that a visit to the PED following a minor MVC did not serve as a teachable moment to encourage families to obtain or consistently use a booster seat more than the control families. However, more than one-third of all of the families who learned about booster seats in the PED reported using a booster seat consistently at the two-week follow-up, which indicates that education about safety regardless of the reason for the PED visit may be enough to persuade families to modify their safety behaviors.


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  • Accession Number: 01456696
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 11 2012 11:56AM