Risk-compensation behavior in children: myth or reality?

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006 Jun;160(6):610-4. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.160.6.610.


Objective: To assess risk compensation and risk homeostasis theory in children.

Design: We used a case-control study design in children aged 8 to 18 years who had an injury while participating in an activity that did or could entail the use of protective equipment (PE).

Setting: Montreal Children's Hospital emergency department from December 1, 2001, to November 30, 2002.

Participants: We interviewed consenting children and compared the reports of risk-taking behaviors in those who did and those who did not report using PE.

Main outcome measures: Indicators of risk-taking behavior and injury severity.

Results: A total of 674 children presented with injuries during the study, and 394 were interviewed (235 PE users and 159 nonusers). There was no evidence of an association between indicators of risk-taking behavior and PE use after adjusting for age, sex, personality, and type of activity and no relationship between injury severity and PE use.

Conclusions: Results of this study provide no support for hypotheses about risk homeostasis theory among children using PE. The validity of the theory appears highly doubtful for children in this age range.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Protective Devices*
  • Psychology, Child
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*