Thursday, February 9, 2012

New Study: Parents Want Dog Bite Prevention Education for Children

A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics concluded that dog bite prevention knowledge is poor in children, that formal dog bite prevention education is warranted and that parents desire such education for their children.

Cinnamon A. Dixon, DO, MPH, E. Melinda Mahabee-Gittens, MD, MS, Kimberly W. Hart, MA,
and Christopher J. Lindsell, PhD. 2012. Dog Bite Prevention: An Assessment of Child Knowledge. J Pediatr, 160:337-341.


To determine what children know about preventing dog bites and to identify parental desires for dog bite prevention education.

Study design 
This cross-sectional study sampled 5- to 15-year-olds and their parents/guardians presenting to a pediatric emergency department with nonurgent complaints or dog bites. The parent/guardian-child pairs completed surveys and knowledge-based simulated scenario tests developed on the basis of American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dog bite prevention recommendations. Regression analyses modeled knowledge test scores and probability of passing; a passing score was $11 of 14 questions.

Of 300 parent/guardian-child pairs, 43% of children failed the knowledge test. Older children had higher odds of passing the knowledge test than younger children, as did children with white parents vs those with  nonwhite parents. No associations were found between knowledge scores and other sociodemographic or  experiential factors. More than 70% of children had never received dog bite prevention education, although 88% of parents desired it.

Dog bites are preventable injures that disproportionately affect children. Dog bite prevention knowledge in our sample was poor, particularly among younger children and children with nonwhite parents. Formal dog  bite prevention education is warranted and welcomed by a majority of parents.

"Consequences of dog bite injuries can be temporary or lasting and include pain, disfigurement, infection, time lost from school or employment, fear, and anxiety. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons statistical data, there were >30 000 reconstructive procedures performed for dog bite injuries in 2009. Infections due to bacterial pathogens have long been described in dog bite wounds and are estimated to occur in approximately 16% of cases.8 A United Nations Children’s Fund–Alliance for Safe Children study reported animal bites to children as the number 2 cause for seeking medical care or time lost from school and work. Evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder 1 month after injury has been seen in over half of children who have been bitten by a dog.

These injuries place a significant financial strain on the US medical system. The annual cost for dog bites is estimated at $120 million for emergency services alone, of which children and adolescents account for >50% and government sources pay more than a quarter of the sums. Combining direct and indirect medical expenditures, dog bites cost nearly $250 million each year."

"Despite alarming injury statistics, children aged 5-15 in our sample population often lacked the knowledge to minimize the risk of dog bites and few had received formal dog bite prevention education. In this study, younger children and children with nonwhite parents had a greater knowledge deficit than did older children and children with white parents. We conclude that this may place younger children and those with nonwhite parents at greater risk of dog bites. The vast majority of parents in our study recognized the need for dog bite prevention education and indicated health care settings as appropriate venues for providing it. Our findings reinforce that dog bite prevention education should be included in injury prevention discussions with children and parents. Further research on this topic will be helpful in addressing this problem and discovering other strategies and interventions to reduce dog bite injuries and outcomes in children."

posted with permission from the publisher

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