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120 Smart phone app to promote correct car seat use: results from a randomised controlled trial
  1. Eileen M McDonald1,
  2. Wendy C Shields1,
  3. Elise Omaki1,
  4. Nick Rizzutti1,
  5. Patricia Mahoney1,
  6. Beverly Miller2,
  7. S Hope Mullins2,
  8. Mary Aitken2,
  9. Andrea C Gielen1
  1. 1Johns Hopkins Centre for Injury Research and Policy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
  2. 2Injury Prevention Centre, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


Background Child safety seats are known to reduce the risk of death from motor vehicle crashes by between 50%–80%. CSS use among younger children is common, use for older children is low, and CSS misuse is widespread. We developed a smart phone app to promote correct CSS use among children younger than 8 years old and tested it with parents of children who presented in one urban and one rural paediatric emergency department in 2 US states.

Methods Research staff helped enrolled parents download the Safety in Seconds app to their smart phone. Parents completed a series of assessment items about their CSS knowledge and beliefs. Intervention group parents reported in more detail about their CSS beliefs and practices with all age-eligible children while control parents answered a similar number of items about another safety topic. Both groups received an electronic report from the app in real time that offered recommendations for improving their health behaviour of interest. All parents received periodic text messages and completed follow up reports through the app at 3 and 6 months. Study enrollment is expected to end in January 2016 and follow ups by July 2016.

Results To date, 761 parents completed baseline surveys (32% rural; 68% urban). Study parents, on average, are black (65.6%), employed (65.8%), with more than a high school education (60.0%), with no differences between study groups. Index child is 5.2 years old. At 6 month follow up, more intervention group parents had gotten their child’s safety seat inspected by a car seat technician (34% vs 24%) and properly identified that children should ride in the back seat of the car until at least age 13 (35% vs 27%). Additional CSS knowledge, beliefs and practices will be explored when the final data set is ready.

Conclusions Child passenger safety remains an important public health problem. Programs are needed to correct widespread misuse and to promote CSS use among older children.

  • Smart phone app
  • car safety seats
  • technology
  • children
  • booster seats

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