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Burn prevention knowledge and education in the emergency department

Annals of Emergency Medicine
DOI: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2004.07.353
  • Design
  • Education
  • Medicine


Study objectives: Unintentional injuries are the number 1 cause of death in children, with burns and scalds being the most common. The objective of this study is to determine parents' baseline burn prevention knowledge and whether the emergency department (ED) might be an effective setting to provide burn prevention educational materials. Methods: The design was a presurvey educational intervention and postsurvey of a convenience sample of parents at a dedicated pediatric ED with volume of 35,000. Parents filled out a presurvey consisting of demographic and burn-related questions. They were then given an informational handout with 5 illustrated messages about how to prevent burn injuries related to smoke alarms, temperature of water heaters, locking dangerous items, electrical outlets, and cooking safety. No discussion about these messages was conducted. Postsurveys were performed by telephone 7 to 10 days later. The 15-question postsurvey assessed parents' recall of information listed in the handout, whether parents had made any changes according to the handout, and whether they thought that they had learned anything from the experience. Study protocol had been approved by the hospital's institutional review board. Results: One hundred thirty-seven parents participated; the telephone response rate was 64%. For baseline burn prevention knowledge, 29% knew to change smoke alarm batteries yearly, 54% knew to set the water heater to less than 120°F, and 45% knew to lock dangerous items. Seventy-one percent thought that they learned something from the handout. Eighty-five percent would want to receive more information about injury prevention in the ED. The area that seemed to have most impact was cooking safety. Before the survey, 41 (47.1%) parents knew to place pots on the back burners of the stove; after the survey, 66 (75.9%) knew this (P<.05). Conclusion: Baseline burn prevention knowledge is inadequate. Distribution of illustrated educational handouts improved cooking safety practices but not other practices. The majority thought that they learned from the materials and would benefit from prevention information.

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