Objectives: Determine the frequency of personal protective equipment (PPE) use in adolescent inline skaters, skateboarders, and snowboarders; explore factors influencing PPE use; identify factors that would influence use; and examine the association of high-risk behaviors and PPE use.
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Setting: Central/southeast Wisconsin.
Participants: Participants 13-18 years-old.
Interventions: None. Independent variables = age, gender, sport.
Main outcome measurements: None. Dependent variables = PPE use, factors influencing use, and frequency of other high-risk behaviors.
Results: The mean age of 333 participiants was 14.9 years. Adolescents wore considerably less PPE than recommended. Inline skaters wore the most; snowboarders the least. The most common reasons adolescents wore PPE were parents, peers, and rule/requirement. Younger adolescents cited parents more often than older adolescents as a factor for PPE use. Discomfort and lack of perceived need were the most common reasons for nonuse. Sustaining/witnessing an accident was the most common reason that would convince adolescents to wear PPE. Almost half of adolescents reported nothing would convince them to wear PPE. Younger adolescents wore more PPE than older adolescents. An association was seen between PPE use in all sports and bicycle helmets. An inverse relationship was found for tobacco and helmet use among skaters, as well as alcohol and helmet use in skateboarders.
Conclusions: Adolescents underuse PPE. PPE reinforcement by parents/peers, encouraging bike helmets, manufacturing more comfortable gear, educating adolescents, and instituting PPE requirements in public areas may increase compliance. This could lead to decreased injuries. Physicians should discuss PPE with their patients/families. There may be an association between PPE use in extreme sports and decreased high-risk health behaviors.