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Trauma Center Counseling Reduces Kids' Repeat Injuries

Emergency department 'teachable moments' remembered well by parents, youngsters, study finds

FRIDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Pediatric trauma centers and emergency departments are good places to teach children how to curb risky behavior and reduce the threat of injury, according to researchers at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

"We know that children who are admitted to a trauma center for treatment of an injury tend to be more likely to engage in high-risk behavior. So, when we have them in our care, it provides us with an opportunity, or a 'teachable moment,' to provide an intervention to counter risky behavior that could result in injury," study author Dr. Peter F. Ehrlich, director of the Pediatric Trauma Center at C.S. Mott, said in a university news release.

He and his colleagues studied the effectiveness of such interventions for bicycle and car safety risk-related behaviors in children admitted to two pediatric trauma centers. The interventions were led by trained therapists and were conducted after the children received medical treatment. The interventions included separate conversations with the child and parent/guardian about car and bicycle safety practices, negative consequences of continued risk-taking behavior, and recommendations to improve their adherence to car and bike safety regulations. The families also received written materials.

Three months after the intervention, 97 percent of families were able to recall information about how seat belts save lives and the importance of placing children in the back seat of the car and having them wear helmets while bicycling.

In addition, 79 percent of families said they found the information provided during the intervention to be helpful, 53 percent said they learned something from the intervention, and 75 percent said the trauma center or emergency department was a good place to learn more about car and bicycle safety.

The study also found that 24 percent of the children who underwent the intervention changed their behavior. This is particularly promising, said Ehrlich, who noted that every 10 percent increase in bicycle helmet use could lead to a 9 percent to 11 percent decrease in head and facial/scalp injuries.

"We found that the pediatric trauma center is a feasible location for conducting an injury prevention intervention. Families found the information helpful and, in many cases, made important life changes as a result. Plus, the intervention did not interfere with the patient flow in the hospital and was well-supported by the health-care team," Ehrlich said.

The study was published in The Journal of Trauma Injury, Infection, and Critical Care.

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-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, July 7, 2008

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