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Paediatric emergency department-based carbon monoxide detector intervention: a randomised trial


Background Although non-fire-related carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is almost entirely preventable, over 400 people die and 20 000 people are injured each year in the USA from unintentional CO poisoning. Thus, there is a critical need for evidence-based interventions for preventing CO poisoning and increasing the proper use and installation of CO detectors.

Methods A randomised, controlled trial (Project CODE, a Carbon Monoxide Detector Education intervention) with 2-week and 6-month follow-up home observations was conducted in 299 parents of children aged ≤18 years recruited in the emergency department of a level 1 paediatric trauma centre. The intervention group received an educational tool, a spiral-bound, laminated booklet that resembled a CO detector containing theory-based safety messages based on the precaution adoption process model, a plug-in CO detector and 9 V battery. The control group received a one page flyer on CO poisoning prevention.

Results Although the difference was not statistically significant, mean CO knowledge score increased at a greater rate for the intervention group than the control group. Intervention group parents were more likely to exhibit ‘safe’ CO detector use than control group parents at the 2-week follow-up (RR: 2.75; 95% CI 2.06 to 3.69) and 6-month follow-up (RR: 2.78; 95% CI 2.06 to 3.76), after adjusting for self-reported CO detector use behaviour at enrolment and annual per capita income.

Conclusions An emergency department-delivered intervention containing a theory-based educational tool paired with a CO detector can be an effective method for increasing knowledge about CO poisoning, for prevention and for appropriate use of a CO detector.

Trial registration number NCT00959478.

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