Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Behavioral Science Research

behavioral science research-focus group
Aditya Belwadi, PhD conducts a focus group with parents of young children about their use of child restraint systems.

At its core, behavioral science research is the study of human behavior, using empirical data to investigate how people think, behave, interpret the world, understand their emotions, make decisions, communicate, and relate to others. We also consider the social frameworks that affect individuals, from families to communities to the economic and social environment.

Behavioral science research methods are infused throughout many CIRP research projects. Behavioral science researchers use a range of methods including: assessing people’s knowledge, attitudes, or mental health symptoms through validated questionnaires and surveys; observing behavior to better understand how people use technology or interactions amongst family members or the health care team; and developing evidence-based interventions to change behaviors or reduce symptoms.

At CIRP, research in behavioral science addresses both prevention of injury, and recovery once an injury occurs.

  • Related to prevention, the Center’s behavioral science researchers study how human behavior before an injury occurs can increase or decrease the risk of that injury, and then develop interventions to increase the adoption of behaviors that promote safety and help to prevent injury. Related lines of behavioral science research at CIRP focus on improving safe driving behaviors among teenagers, improving child passenger safety, and reducing bullying in school environments.
  • Related to recovery, CIRP behavioral science researchers study the emotional and psychological impact of injury for children and their family members. This research also addresses the way that health care is provided, with the aim of optimizing both physical and emotional recovery. Related lines of behavioral science research at CHOP examine injury-related posttraumatic stress and health-related quality of life, and develop evidence-based information and interventions for children who have experienced a range of injuries including youth concussion and violent injury.

Exemplar CIRP Projects Involving Behavioral Science Methods

Related to Prevention

  • Friend to Friend (F2F)
    Friend to Friend is a small-group school-based intervention program specifically designed for African-American, relationally aggressive, 3rd to 5th grade girls in urban schools.
  • Teen Driving Safety Research
    Motor vehicle crashes remain the number one cause of death for adolescents. Currently CHOP researchers are working with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania to develop behavior change interventions that include strategies to encourage focused attention on driving. The studies test the effects of a web-based educational intervention, as well as different ways to implement technological solutions such as automated blocking of cell phone use and silencing of notifications while the vehicle is in motion. This research builds on prior research from a randomized, controlled trial of young drivers and their parent supervisors, which culminated in the development of the TeenDrivingPlan Practice Guide, an interactive, web-based resource filled with activities, tools and 53 short videos to help both parents and teens make the most of their practice drive time.
  • Trauma Informed Care Approach and Training
    With support from the Violence Prevention Initiative, CIRP researchers are developing and testing frameworks for a systems-based approach to trauma-informed care (TIC) for those who work with children. TIC is a secondary prevention strategy that works to reduce additional trauma for children and families who may already be traumatized prior to coming in contact with a system.

Related to Recovery

  • Evaluating a Model of Brief Early Intervention with Violently Injured Youth
    Researchers within CIRP and CHOP’s Emergency Department are evaluating the effectiveness of the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI), a brief early intervention program, which aims to reduce the severity of posttraumatic stress in assault-injured youth when combined with the Violence Intervention Program, the standard trauma-informed case management program at the hospital.
  • Pediatric Resuscitation Quality Improvement Project
    Working with researchers in the Emergency Department at CHOP and other community based hospitals, this project will create and distribute the Pediatric Resuscitation Quality Self-Assessment Toolkit. This web-based toolkit will allow community EDs to self-assess, measure, and improve their performance in a range of key skills for pediatric resuscitation, including family-centered and trauma-informed care.
  • eScreen
    In collaboration with Radiant Creative, LLC, researchers at CHOP are developing and validating a new game-based eHealth screening system, “eScreen,” for post-hospital pain, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and functional recovery in school age children that can help to guide follow-up care from parents and healthcare providers.