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Health Educ Res. 2000 Apr;15(2):191-202.

School-based scalds prevention: reaching children and their families.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Auckland, New Zealand.


Preventing children's thermal injuries requires changes to both the home environment and the behaviour of family members. Two pilot studies were undertaken of a school-based programme that taught children aged 7-11 years about burns and scalds hazards, and encouraged changes to the home environment and family practices through a take-home exercise. Both studies took place at ethnically diverse schools from low/middle-income areas of Waitakere City, New Zealand. Study 1 involved 55 children who received the programme, and Study 2 involved 64 children who received the programme and 71 children from a control school. The children's ability to identify the burns and scalds hazards illustrated in a series of pictures was measured before and after the programme. Children who received the programme showed considerable improvement in hazard identification at the post-test, while children at the control school showed minimal improvement. The take-home exercise was completed by 85% of the children and their families in Study 1, and 61% of the participants from the intervention school in Study 2. In both studies families reported positive safety changes as a result of the programme. The programme appeared equally effective with all the ethnic groups involved. Future development of the programme is discussed.

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