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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2013 Apr;29(4):475-81. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e31828a322f.

Adolescents' preference for technology-based emergency department behavioral interventions: does it depend on risky behaviors?

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Injury Prevention Center of Rhode Island Hospital, Department of Emergency Medicine, Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, RI 02903, USA.



This study aimed to (1) determine the prevalence of technology use and interest in technology-based interventions among adolescent emergency department patients and (2) examine the association between interest in an intervention and self-reported risky behaviors.


Adolescents (age, 13-17 years) presenting to an urban pediatric emergency department completed a survey regarding baseline technology use, risky behaviors, and interest in and preferred format for behavioral health interventions. Questions were drawn from validated measures when possible. Descriptive statistics and χ2 tests were calculated to identify whether self-reported risky behaviors were differentially associated with intervention preference.


Two hundred thirty-four patients (81.8% of eligible) consented to participate. Almost all used technology, including computers (98.7%), social networking (84.9%), and text messaging (95.1%). Adolescents reported high prevalence of risky behaviors as follows: unintentional injury (93.2%), peer violence exposure (29.3%), dating violence victimization (23.0%), depression or anxiety (30.0%), alcohol use (22.8%), drug use (36.1%), cigarette use (16.4%), and risky sexual behaviors (15.1%). Most were interested in receiving behavioral interventions (ranging from 93.6% interest in unintentional injury prevention, to 73.1% in smoking cessation); 45% to 93% preferred technology-based (vs in person, telephone call, or paper) interventions for each topic. Proportion interested in a specific topic and proportion preferring a technology-based intervention did not significantly differ by self-reported risky behaviors.


Among this sample of adolescent emergency department patients, high rates of multiple risky behaviors are reported. Patients endorsed interest in receiving interventions for these behaviors, regardless of whether they reported the behavior. Most used multiple forms of technology, and approximately 50% preferred a technology-based intervention format.

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