Objective: To assess effectiveness of general practitioner advice about child safety, and provision of low cost safety equipment to low income families, on use of safety equipment and safe practices at home.
Design: Randomised, unblinded, controlled trial with initial assessment and six week follow up by telephone survey. Twenty families from intervention and control groups were randomly selected for a home visit to assess validity of responses to second survey.
Setting: A general practice in Nottingham.
Subjects: 98% (165/169) of families with children aged under 5 years registered with the practice.
Interventions: General practitioner safety advice plus, for families receiving means tested state benefits, access to safety equipment at low cost. Control families received usual care.
Main outcome measures: Possession and use of safety equipment and safe practices at home.
Results: Before intervention, the two groups differed only in possession of fireguards. After intervention, significantly more families in intervention group used fireguards (relative risk 1.89, 95% confidence interval 1.18 to 2.94), smoke alarms (1.14, 1.04 to 1.25), socket covers (1.27, 1.10 to 1.48), locks on cupboards for storing cleaning materials (1.38, 1.02 to 1.88), and door slam devices (3.60, 2.17 to 5.97). Also, significantly more families in intervention group showed very safe practice in storage of sharp objects (1.98, 1.38 to 2.83), storage of medicines (1.15, 1.03 to 1.28), window safety (1.30, 1.06 to 1.58), fireplace safety (1.84, 1.34 to 2.54), socket safety (1.77, 1.37 to 2.28), smoke alarm safety (1.11, 1.01 to 1.22), and door slam safety (7.00, 3.15 to 15.6). Stratifying results by receipt of state benefits showed that intervention was at least as effective in families receiving benefits as others.
Conclusions: General practitioner advice, coupled with access to low cost equipment for low income families, increased use of safety equipment and other safe practices. These findings are encouraging for provision of injury prevention in primary care.
Key messages We assessed the effectiveness of general practitioner advice about child safety, and provision of low cost safety equipment to low income families, on safe practices at home The intervention increased safe behaviour and use of safety equipment The intervention was equally effective in families receiving means tested benefits as in those not receiving benefits The effectiveness of this intervention should be evaluated over longer periods, in other practices, and when delivered by other members of the primary healthcare team