Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of booster seat education within an emergency department (ED) setting for families residing in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods.
Methods: This was a prospective, randomized study of families with children aged 4 to 7 years and weighing 40 to 80 lb who presented to a pediatric ED without a booster seat and resided in lower socioeconomic communities. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1) received standard discharge instructions, 2) received five-minute booster seat training, and 3) received five-minute booster seat training and free booster seat with installation. Automobile restraint practices were obtained initially and by telephone at one month.
Results: A total of 225 children were enrolled. Before randomization in the study, 79.6% of parents reported that their child was usually positioned in the car with a lap/shoulder belt and 13.3% with a lap belt alone. Some parents (16.4%) had never heard of a booster seat, and 44.9% believed a lap belt was sufficient restraint. A total of 147 parents (65.3%) were contacted for follow-up at one month. Only one parent (1.3%) in the control group and four parents (5.3%) in the education group purchased and used a booster seat after their ED visit, while 55 parents (98.2%) in the education and installation group reported using the booster seat; 42 (75.0%) of these parents reported using the seat 100% of the time.
Conclusions: Education in a pediatric ED did not convince parents to purchase and use booster seats; however, the combination of education with installation significantly increased booster seat use in this population.