A Voice for Children
Flaura Winston, MD, PhD testifying on preventing and treating traumatic brain injury before the US House Subcommittee on Health, March 19, 2012
CIRP is frequently in the national spotlight because of its “Research to Action to Impact” approach. We recognize that to effect change in keeping children and teens safe, we need to go beyond the publication of research findings. Therefore, our Center is unique among injury research centers in that we employ an embedded team of communications specialists who use our research to actively engage in health promotion.
We deploy digital communications strategies, educational tool development and legislative advocacy to help translate our research recommendations into real world solutions. These activities are geared both to those who can deliver our messages (e.g., news media, policymakers, medical professionals and advocates) and directly to families.
Our recent translational research shows that more traditional models of information dissemination (e.g., press releases, media briefings, etc.) must be complemented by, and keep pace with, new technology and the changing information environment. The ways in which the public finds, consumes, and shares information is rapidly changing and offers great opportunities for direct engagement with parents and stakeholders.
Essential to Outreach activities in health promotion is collaboration with the key stakeholders who are best positioned to effect change: the media, policymakers and child and traffic safety advocacy organizations. These relationships allow us to engage end-users in early stages of Center research as well as develop useful tools and resources that contain CIRP research recommendations.
- 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 health promotion 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.
- Ride Like A Friend. Drive Like You Care (RLAF)
RLAF is a school-based peer to peer campaign that encourages safe teen passenger and driver behavior. Students (including student leaders and extracurricular club members) work with teachers and school administrators to plan and conduct a set of in-school RLAF activities that span three to five school days, typically during National Teen Driver Safety Week.
Formative research to develop the campaign involved: 1/ development of a program theory; 2/ analyses of the National Young Driver Survey (n=5,665); 3/ a teen panel survey (n=625); and 4/ teen focus groups (n=33). Analyses of this data led to the design, development and pre-testing of campaign content with an online teen panel (n=107). Additionally, an online survey of 1,170 teen driver safety stakeholders informed the campaign to facilitate its delivery in school settings.
RLAF was pilot-tested in seven schools (two initial schools in 2008, and five more schools in 2009). Evaluation studies in 2008 showed overall exposure to RLAF and participation in specific RLAF activities were associated with positive cognitions about and use of seat belts among teens — addressing an entrenched health promotion challenge. Evaluation studies in 2009 focused on process. These findings underscored the need for a committed effort to RLAF in a school from at least one student advisor, a key senior administrator (preferably the principal), and energy and leadership from a variety of students in order to implement an effective campaign.
- Evaluation and Dissemination of AfterTheInjury.org
AfterTheInjury.org is CIRP's award-winning website that helps parents help their children recover emotionally from an injury. CIRP has evaluated the site’s impact on parent knowledge, and the Center continues to develop and evaluate ways to ensure that parents find the website when they need it.
- CIRP’s Family of Websites. Outreach efforts include keeping CIRP’s websites current and organized for the parents, educators, journalists, researchers, and other stakeholders who utilize the sites for trusted health information and resources. Each health promotion site is written and maintained by CHOP experts. Sites include:
- Enhancing Education To Keep Teens Safe On The Road
This suite of research-informed educational resources was designed to help educators of parents and educators of teens address the leading public health threat to teens - car crashes. The free, downloadable instructional materials meet National Health Education Standards and the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 objectives related to teen driving, and enable educators to conduct evidence-based learning events for teens and parents in classroom or community settings. The entire suite of health promotion materials is available on teendriversource.org.
- Public Policy Advocacy
The Outreach staff works with Center researchers to translate CIRP and others’ research into legislative educational materials such as issue briefs, fact sheets, legislative testimony, and opinion articles. An essential component of our advocacy is partnerships with state coalitions and advocates who are best positioned to advocate among their state’s policymakers.
Key among our advocacy efforts have been two strategic initiatives to improve child restraint use laws and Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws. Between 2001 and 2008, we utilized research findings from Partners for Child Passenger Safety to successfully promote a shift in child occupant restraint practice to the use of booster seats for older children. This was accomplished through collaboration with national organizations with local chapters, state coalitions, and the media that fostered upgrades in nearly all child restraint laws at the state and federal levels as well as to increase awareness among parents/caregivers.
A similar approach has been deployed to advocate for optimal GDL laws through promotion of relevant research findings. In addition, in 2007, CIRP spearheaded an effort to create a congress-sanctioned annual National Teen Driver Safety Week, which continues to build momentum and traction each year.
CIRP research is regularly covered in the news media by writers that focus on child safety and parenting, as well as those that focus on traffic and auto safety news. CIRP experts are frequently asked to provide perspective on other’s research and child injury-related topics. We also use Twitter (@SafetyMD) and our blog to draw attention to important and interesting news relevant to child injury prevention.