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Role of physicians in preventing accidents in the home involving children under 15 years in the French-speaking community of Belgium

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Objectives. To measure GPs' and paediatricians' expectations, attitudes, priorities and demands in the area of promoting safety and preventing accidents in the home involving children under 15 years of age. Methods. A phone survey of a random sample of GPs and paediatricians in the French-speaking community of Belgium (Wallonia and Brussels) conducted in the course of September and October 2000. Results. Close to two-thirds of the physicians surveyed stated that they had been contacted at least once in the 2 weeks preceding the survey to handle an injury. Of the physicians, 80% mention accident prevention after a childhood injury, but only 46% mention it during a routine consultation (whatever the reason of the latter may be). The main obstacles to mentioning prevention during routine consultation put forward by the interviewees are: 1) reasons for consultations that do not permit such an approach (79%); 2) the fact that injuries are not priorities for them (66%); 3) the lack of interesting materials to provide the subject with documentation (63%); 4) the unsuitability of the place where the contact occurs for such discussion, given the time required (56%); 5) insufficient information on the subject (41%); and 6) the patient's lack of interest (39%). An overwhelming majority (98%) nevertheless feel that they have a role to play in preventing children's accidents in the home, with 72.5% seeing this as informative (recommendation on safety rules). More than two-thirds of the respondents feel that they have enough requisite information to play such a role. Those who declare that they have not enough information (34%) proposed some priority subjects about which they would like to find information or additional information to be more effective in preventing accidents. The information needs mentioned most frequently were a systematic review of the risks, of the effective prevention strategies and epidemiological data. Conclusions. The present study clearly reveals the interest of physicians for accident prevention and puts forward the current obstacles to offering prevention advice during routine consultation. The obstacles mentioned are fairly comparable to those mentioned in other studies, namely, because the reason for the visit does not give such an opening, the lack of appropriate materials and information, the lack of time, the patient's lack of interest, the fact that the issue is not a priority, etc. The problem of lack of priority for certain practitioners underlines the importance of making accident mortality and morbidity statistics available to doctors in order to improve their perception of the magnitude of the problem. The lack of interesting education materials and useful information seems to be a major reason for their failure to carry out such prevention work successfully. These factors should thus be taken into account when developing any policy and/or programme aimed at 'using' GPs and paediatricians in the prevention strategies that are adopted.
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Keywords: First-line medical professionals; attitudes; children; injury prevention

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Departmentof Epidemiology and Health Promotion, School of Public Health Brussels Free University Brussels Belgium 2: Educa Santé Health and Safety Promotion Organisation Charleroi Belgium

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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