Objective. To assess the effectiveness of an emergency department (ED)-based home safety intervention on caregivers’ behaviors and practices related to home safety.

Methods. We conducted a randomized, clinical trial of 96 consecutive caregivers of children who were younger than 5 years and presented to an urban pediatric ED for evaluation of an acute unintentional injury sustained in the home. After completing a structured home safety questionnaire via face-to-face interview, caregivers were randomly assigned to receive either comprehensive home safety education and free safety devices or focused, injury-specific ED discharge instructions. Participants were contacted by telephone 2 months after the initial ED visit for repeat administration of the safety questionnaire. The pretest and posttest questionnaires were scored such that the accrual of points correlated with reporting of safer practices. Scores were then normalized to a 100-point scale. The overall safety score reflected performance on the entire questionnaire, and the 8 category safety scores reflected performance in single areas of home injury prevention (fire, burn, poison, near-drowning, aspiration, cuts/piercings, falls, and safety device use). The main outcome was degree of improvement in safety practices as assessed by improvement in safety scores.

Results. The intervention group demonstrated a significantly higher average overall safety score at follow-up than the control group (73.3% ± 8.4% vs 66.8% ±11.1) and significant improvements in poison, cut/piercing, and burns category scores. Caregivers in the intervention group also demonstrated greater improvement in reported use of the distributed safety devices.

Conclusions. This educational and device disbursement intervention was effective in improving the home safety practices of caregivers of young children. Moreover, the ED was used effectively to disseminate home injury prevention information.

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