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Ann Adv Automot Med. 2013;57:77-88.

Adolescent Balloon Analog Risk Task and Behaviors that Influence Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Injury.

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Yale School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut Yale School of Medicine, Child Study Center, New Haven, Connecticut.
Yale School of Medicine, Child Study Center, New Haven, Connecticut.
Yale School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, New Haven, Connecticut.
Yale School of Nursing, New Haven, Connecticut.
Yale School of Medicine, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.


Risk-taking propensity is a pivotal facet of motor vehicle crash involvement and subsequent traumatic injury in adolescents. Clinical encounters are important opportunities to identify teens with high risk-taking propensity who may later experience serious injury. Our objective was to compare self-reports of health risk behavior with performance on the Balloon Analog Risk Task (BART), a validated metric of risk-taking propensity, in adolescents during a clinical encounter. 100 adolescent patients from a hospital emergency department and adolescent health clinic completed a computer-based survey of self-reported risk behaviors including substance use behaviors and behaviors that influence crash involvement. They then completed the BART, a validated laboratory-based risk task in which participants earn points by pumping up a computer-generated balloon with greater pumps leading to increased chance of balloon explosion. 20 trials were undertaken. Mean number of pumps on the BART showed a correlation of .243 (p=.015) with self-reported driver/passenger behaviors and attitudes towards driving that influence risk of crash injury. Regression analyses showed that self-reports of substance use and mean number of pumps on the BART uniquely predict self-reports of behaviors influencing the risk of crash injury. The BART is a promising correlate of real-world risk-taking behavior related to traffic safety. It remains a valid predictor of behaviors influencing risk of crash injury when using just 10 trials, suggesting its utility as a quick and effective screening measure for use in busy clinical environments. This tool may be an important link to prevention interventions for those most at-risk for future motor vehicle crash involvement and injury.

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