Pilot Trial of an Emergency Department-based Intervention to Promote Child Passenger Safety Best Practices

Acad Emerg Med. 2019 Jul;26(7):770-783. doi: 10.1111/acem.13687. Epub 2019 Feb 19.


Background: Despite demonstrated effectiveness of child restraint systems (CRSs), use remains suboptimal. In this randomized pilot trial, we sought to determine the feasibility, acceptability, and potential efficacy of "Tiny Cargo, Big Deal" an ED-based intervention to promote guideline-concordant size-appropriate CRS use.

Methods: Parents of children < 11 years old were recruited in two EDs and randomized in a 2 × 2 factorial design to four conditions: 1) generic information sheet, 2) tailored brochure mailed after the ED visit, 3) a single motivational interviewing-based counseling session in the ED, and 4) full intervention (counseling session plus tailored brochure). We assessed feasibility (recruitment, completion, follow-up rates) and acceptability (parent attitudes, uptake of information) in the ED, at 1 month and at 6 months. We obtained preliminary estimates of effect sizes of the intervention components on appropriate CRS use at 6-month follow-up.

Results: Of the 514 parents assessed for eligibility, 456 met inclusion criteria and 347 consented to participate. Enrolled parents were mostly mothers (88.1%); 48.7% were 18 to 29 years old; 52.5% were non-Hispanic, white; and 65.2% reported size-appropriate CRS use. Completion rates were 97.7% for baseline survey, 81.6% for counseling, 51.9% for 1-month follow-up, and 59.3% for 6-month follow-up. In the ED, 70.5% rated thinking about child passenger safety in the ED as very helpful. At 1 month, 70.0% expressed positive attitudes toward the study. Of 132 parents who reported receiving study mailings, 78.9% reviewed the information. Parents randomized to the full intervention demonstrated an increase (+6.12 percentage points) and other groups a decrease (-1.69 to -9.3 percentage points) in the proportion of children reported to use a size-appropriate CRS at 6-month follow-up.

Conclusions: Suboptimal CRS use can be identified and intervened upon during a child's ED visit. A combined approach with ED-based counseling and mailed tailored brochures shows promise to improve size-appropriate CRS use.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Restraint Systems / standards*
  • Child Restraint Systems / statistics & numerical data
  • Child, Preschool
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Young Adult