Pediatric Reflections: Finding Innovative Ways to Provide Injury Prevention Counseling

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Children's Doctor

Christopher Gaw, MD Christopher Gaw, MD Families rely on clinicians to provide advice on how to keep their children healthy, and a recurring topic throughout the lifespan is injury prevention—from monitoring their infant’s sleep to supervising their teen’s driving practices.

Yet, educating families about safety is not an easy task. Many pediatricians have a limited amount of time with families—often only 15 to 20 minutes. Finding time to discuss unintentional injury prevention among other topics equally deserving of attention, let alone answering a family’s questions during a visit, can be a challenge. Add in the exam, charting, and care coordination, and the task begins to feel truly daunting.

The Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) explored this issue in a recent study published in Clinical Pediatrics, where clinicians like you shared their opinions on injury prevention as well as their counseling practices. Despite busy schedules, the overwhelming majority of clinicians felt strongly that it was their role to provide injury prevention counseling to patients and families. However, they endorsed pretty varied counseling rates depending on the topic. For example, nearly all primary care providers and resident physicians (94%) in the study would often counsel on sleep safety, but only 16% would often discuss pedestrian safety.

Many factors may contribute to differences in counseling practices, and one barrier to counseling cited by many providers was lack of time. To combat this challenge, clinicians in the study highlighted multiple forms of “contemporary” counseling they felt could help them in their practice. These included adopting new technologies or workflows, such as an electronic educational tool used before an encounter to reinforce counseling topics. Or, it may involve harnessing other highly trained personnel, such as an injury prevention specialist or trained nurse, to assist in providing injury prevention counseling.

As our world becomes more fast-paced and technologically complex, we need to find better ways to help us effectively provide this much-needed counseling to our patients and families. It is exciting to see how further development of these innovative resources may help busy pediatricians in the future.

Reference and Further Reading

Gaw CE, Berthet E, Curry AE, Zonfrillo MR, Arbogast KB, Corwin DJ. Pediatric health care provider perspectives on injury prevention counseling in acute and primary care settings. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2020;59(13):1150-1160.

Christopher E. Gaw, MD, MBE, an associate fellow at CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention, is a fellow physician in the Emergency Department.

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