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Awarded New Investigator/Doctoral Dissertation Grant

Brief Intervention to Increase Safety Belt Use Among Emergency Department Patients

FOA Number: CE05-021 - Grants for New Investigator Training Awards
Project Period: 8/30/05-8/29/06
Application/Grant Number: 1-R49-CE000681-01
Principal Investigator: William Fernandez, MD, MPH
Department of Emergency Medicine
Boston Medical Center
One BMC Place, Dowling 1 South
Boston, MA 02118


Although consistent seat belt use (SBU) is the most effective means for motorist to reduce the risk of death or serious injury in a crash, its prevalence remains low in some states.

Researchers will test the utility of a brief intervention to increase SBU among emergency department (ED) patients with self-reported use that is less than “always.” They will also determine if the brief intervention is more effective among those being tested for a motor vehicle crash-related injury during a “teachable moment” than other non-injured ED patients receiving the same intervention. The research staff will systematically sample ED patients, screening for SBU among eligible participants during a three-month period. Upon obtaining verbal consent, researchers will ask participants to complete a self-administered screening form about health and safety issues, including SBU. Patients that screen positive, (i.e., give an answer of less than "always use" safety belts) on a SBU screening question will be asked to participate in an intervention to promote health and safety among ED patients. Participants will be reimbursed for their time, and asked to give written informed consent via IRB-approved forms and a HIPAA release form; complete an intake form, and agree to a follow-up phone interview at three and six months post-enrollment. Participants will be randomized into one of two groups: an intervention group that will receive a brief intervention designed to increase SBU, and a control group that will receive only standard care. Research staff will contact participants for a follow-up phone survey at three and six months to test the hypothesis that individuals randomized to the intervention group will have a higher self-reported SBU than those in the control group that received only standard care. Likewise, for the secondary (exploratory) analysis, the hypothesis is that among those treated for MVC-related trauma—and randomized to the intervention group—will have a higher self-reported SBU than others with non MVC-related trauma due to a greater receptivity to brief intervention techniques during the ED visit (i.e., the "teachable moment"). Study results will help inform effective strategies for increasing SBU in the nation.