Objectives—To evaluate the effect of a bicycle helmet promotion campaign on helmet wearing among cyclists less than 16 years of age from 1992–98.
Setting—Reading, West Berkshire, UK.
Methods—A hospital led bicycle helmet promotion campaign targeted at 5–15 year olds. The campaign focused on education with active involvement of the children, parents, schools, and safety organisations. Local media and children's celebrities raised the profile of the campaign and a low cost helmet purchase scheme was also set up. A self administered questionnaire survey of 3000, 11–15 year olds was carried out over the period of the campaign. A control group of 3000 teenagers was obtained from a neighbouring area without a helmet campaign. Accident and emergency (A&E) figures were obtained from the local hospital within the campaign area on all children aged under 16 years, attending with bicycle injuries. Unfortunately, no figures were available from the A&E department in the control area.
Results—Self reported helmet use among 11–15 years olds living in the campaign area increased from 11% at the start of the campaign to 31% after five years (p<0.001), with no change in the control group. Hospital casualty figures in the campaign area for cycle related head injuries in the under 16 years age group, fell from 112.5/100 000 to 60.8/100 000 (from 21.6% of all cycle injuries to 11.7%; p<0.005).
Conclusions—This hospital led community bicycle helmet promotion campaign directed at young people showed an increase in the number of children reporting that they "always" wore their helmet while cycling. There was a significantly higher rate of helmet wearing than in the control area, and a significant reduction in head injuries.