Objectives: Safety belt use (SBU) reduces motor vehicle deaths by 45%. We previously reported that a brief intervention improved self-reported SBU among emergency department (ED) patients at 3 months. We sought to determine if these effects were sustained at 6 months postenrollment.
Methods: This was a prospective, randomized controlled trial of adult patients (age ≥ 21 years) at an academic medical center ED from February 2006 to May 2006. Patients were systematically sampled for self-reported SBU. Those with self-reported SBU less than “always” were asked to participate. Subjects were surveyed at baseline with a nine-item series of situational SBU questions scored on a five-point Likert scale (e.g., 5 = always, 1 = never). This nine-item average comprised the mean SBU score. Subjects were randomized to a control group (CG) and an intervention group (IG). The CG received an injury prevention brochure; the IG received a brief motivation interview by a trained interventionist and the brochure. Subjects were phoned at 3 and 6 months to determine interval change in SBU scores via a standard script. Repeated-measures analysis of covariance and t-tests were used to analyze trends in mean SBU scores between groups, as well as to test mean changes in SBU scores from the 3- to 6-month intervals.
Results: Of 432 eligible patients, 292 enrolled (mean age = 35 years, SD ± 11.2 years; 61% male). At baseline, there were no significant demographic differences; the IG (n = 147) and CG (n = 145) had similar mean SBU scores (2.8 vs. 2.6, p = 0.31), and 66% (n = 96 in each) completed both 3- and 6-month follow-up. The mean SBU score at 6 months in the IG was greater than in the CG group (3.6 vs. 2.9, p < 0.001), as were the mean SBU score differences from baseline (IG = 0.84 vs. CG = 0.29, p < 0.001). These differences were sustained from the 3-month interval (IG = −0.02 vs. CG = −0.06, p > 0.05).
Conclusions: The previously reported finding that ED patients who received a brief motivation interview reported higher SBU scores at 3 months compared to a CG was sustained at 6-month follow-up. Although limited by self-report, a brief intervention may enhance lasting SBU behavior among high-risk ED patients.