Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Behavioral Science

The Center’s behavioral science researchers study the pre-event behaviors that are risk factors for injury and then develop interventions to increase the adoption of safe behaviors. Work in behavioral science research has focused primarily on increasing the use of age- and- size-appropriate child restraints, as well as improving safe driving behaviors among teenagers.

Behavioral Science research in the post-event phase addresses the emotional impact of injury and trauma. Center researchers have applied this post-event research to develop screening tools to help physicians identify children and parents at risk for acute and longer-term post traumatic stress. This research has also informed the development of fact sheets and workbooks for use by parents and children to help them manage the psychological stress of injury and to avoid its long-term emotional consequences.

Behavioral Science-Focused Programs and Networks:

  • Emotional Recovery From Injury
    The aftermath of a traumatic injury is a challenging time for most injured children and their families. Through a number of related studies, the Post-injury Care and Recovery research program is examining the range of responses that children (and their parents) experience after pediatric injury. Our studies have found that psychological distress, such as Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), occur in significant numbers of injured children and their parents. These studies are increasing our understanding of how traumatic stress symptoms may develop in children and parents and how to develop screening tools and intervention methods to promote emotional recovery that can be integrated into medical care following injury.
  • Boosting Restraint Norms Among At Risk Groups
    This community-based social marketing campaign is designed to promote booster seat use among at-risk populations. The campaign is steeped in Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS) data, focus group testing of messages and interventions with parents of booster seat-aged children in both the US and Beijing, China.
  • Teen Driver Safety Research
    CHOP, the University of Pennsylvania, and State Farm, the academic/industry partnership that led the PCPS study, convened the world's leading experts on teens, driving and teen driving in the fall of 2005. The result was an evidence-based road map for the exploration of effective interventions to reduce teen driver-related crash and injury risk. Hypothesizing that effective interventions to significantly reduce teen driver crash risk can only be developed with a clear understanding of the beliefs, attitudes, and developmental stages of teen drivers, Behavioral Science is a crucial component of this research initiative. The behavioral scientists on the Teen Driver Safety Research team are intent on developing teen and parent-focused interventions that will translate into safer driving behaviors and fewer teenage driver-related deaths.