Objective: To assess the long term effect of a home safety visit on the rate of home injury.
Design: Telephone survey conducted 36 months after participation in a randomized controlled trial of a home safety intervention. A structured interview assessed participant knowledge, beliefs, or practices around injury prevention and the number of injuries requiring medical attention.
Setting: Five pediatric teaching hospitals in four Canadian urban centres.
Participants: Children less than 8 years of age presenting to an emergency department with a targeted home injury (fall, scald, burn, poisoning or ingestion, choking, or head injury while riding a bicycle), a non-targeted injury, or a medical illness.
Results: We contacted 774 (66%) of the 1172 original participants. A higher proportion of participants in the intervention group (63%) reported that home visits changed their knowledge, beliefs, or practices around the prevention of home injuries compared with those in the non-intervention group (43%; p<0.001). Over the 36 month follow up period the rate of injury visits to the doctor was significantly less for the intervention group (rate ratio = 0.74; 95% CI 0.63 to 0.87), consistent with the original (12 month) study results (rate ratio = 0.69; 95% CI 0.54 to 0.88). However, the effectiveness of the intervention appears to be diminishing with time (rate ratio for the 12–36 month study interval = 0.80; 95% CI 0.64 to 1.00).
Conclusions: A home safety visit was able to demonstrate sustained, but modest, effectiveness of an intervention aimed at improving home safety and reducing injury. This study reinforces the need of home safety programs to focus on passive intervention and a simple well defined message.