Impact of Community Efforts to Promote Helmet Use

Among Central Texas Children Engaged in Four Types of Wheel-Related Leisure Activities

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Abstract of Journal Article -- August 2004

By Samuel N. Forjuoh, MD, MPH, DrPH; John A. Schuchmann, MD; and Saundra Mason, BSN, RN

The Waco Traffic Safety District Helmet Promotion Coalition was formed in 2001 to increase child helmet usein a two-county Central Texas region with no helmet use legislation. We measured the early impact of the coalition's efforts on child helmet use in four different wheel-related leisure activities (bike riding, in-line skating, skateboarding, and scooter riding) via cross-sectional, unobtrusive, direct observations in 2001 and 2003. A multifaceted helmet promotion campaign took place between surveys. A total of 841 and 731 children were observed in 2001 and 2003, respectively. Significant changes were noted in children's choices of activity between surveys. The overall observed helmet use increased significantly from 14% to 19% ( P =.006). Of those observed with helmets, 37% wore them incorrectly in 2003 compared with 26% in 2001 ( P =.05). The greatest improvements in helmet use were observed among children riding or skating alone (179%; P <.0001), those aged from 6 through 12 years (68%; P =.004), and white children (46%; P =.004). Statistically insignificant decreases in helmet use were found among children younger than 6 years (-2%), in-line skaters (-24%), those observed on playgrounds (-49%), and scooter riders (-68%). The positive association of helmet use with accompanying helmeted children and adults also increased. While only modest increases in helmet use are expected in areas with no helmet use legislation, these findings provide opportunities for increasing helmet use such as providing helmets to subgroups most at risk and for using parents and peers as helmet promotion advocates.

 

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