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Effectiveness of the ThinkFirst Program on Changing Adolescent Utilization of Bike Helmets and Seatbelts
Tracie L. Campbell, MS, Anthony Stallion, MD, David G. Jacobs, MD, Megan E. Waddell, RN, Jessica M. Drummond, BSN, Nora E. Raynor, MSN. Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

Background: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the pediatric age group, and effective TBI prevention efforts are sorely needed. ThinkFirst, a non-profit organization started in 1986 to prevent brain and spinal cord injuries, utilizes a baseline knowledge enhancement program to modify risk taking behavior in school-age youth. Limited studies have been conducted to measure effectiveness of ThinkFirst among junior high school students.

Hypothesis: We hypothesized that having an evidenced based educational program would improve self-reported helmet and seat belt use.

Methods: A 12-month prospective study of the ThinkFirst Program was conducted in a single local private junior high school. To assess changes in behavior, a pre-test and one-month post-test assessment were administered to 284 seventh grade students. All students enrolled were in 7th grade and 46% were female, while 54% were male.

Results: Preliminary analysis indicate a 10.1% increase in students reporting that they use a helmet every time they were riding a bicycle, roller skating, or skateboarding. There was a 32.9% decrease in students reporting that they never use a helmet when riding a bicycle, roller skating, or skateboarding. There no significant change in seatbelt use.

Conclusions: The ThinkFirst program potentially decreases some risky behaviors in 7th graders. Further study is needed to validate these results, assess the durability of this impact, and to further explore risk behavior modification among students with varied educational settings and diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

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