Objectives: Emergency departments (EDs) see a high number of youths injured by violence. In Ontario, the most common cause of injury for youths visiting EDs is assault. Secondary prevention strategies using the teachable moment (i.e., events that can lead individuals to make positive changes in their lives) are ideal for use by clinicians. An opportunity exists to take advantage of the teachable moment in the ED in an effort to prevent future occurrences of injury in at-risk youths. However, little is known about perceptions of youths, parents, and community organizations about such interventions in EDs. The aims of this study were to engage youths, parents, and frontline community workers in conceptualizing a hospital-based violence prevention intervention and to identify outcomes relevant to the community.
Methods: Concept mapping is an innovative, mixed-method research approach. It combines structured qualitative processes such as brainstorming and group sorting, with various statistical analyses such as multidimensional scaling and hierarchical clustering, to develop a conceptual framework, and allows for an objective presentation of qualitative data. Concept mapping involves multiple structured steps: 1) brainstorming, 2) sorting, 3) rating, and 4) interpretation. For this study, the first three steps occurred online, and the fourth step occurred during a community meeting.
Results: Over 90 participants were involved, including youths, parents, and community youth workers. A two-dimensional point map was created and clusters formed to create a visual display of participant ideas on an ED-based youth violence prevention intervention. Issues related to youth violence prevention that were rated of highest importance and most realistic for hospital involvement included mentorship, the development of youth support groups in the hospital, training doctors and nurses to ask questions about the violent event, and treating youth with respect. Small-group discussions on the various clusters developed job descriptions, a list of essential services, and suggestions on ways to create a more youth-friendly environment in the hospital. A large-group discussion revealed outcomes that participants felt should be measured to determine the success of an intervention program.
Conclusions: This study has been the springboard for the development of an ED-based youth violence intervention that is supported by the community and affected youth. Using information generated by youth that is grounded in their experience through participatory research methods is feasible for the development of successful and meaningful youth violence prevention interventions.