Brief motivational intervention to increase self-reported safety belt use among emergency department patients

William G. Fernandez, Patricia M. Mitchell, Amber S. Jamanka, Michael R. Winter, Holly Bullock, Jacqueline Donovan, Jill St. George, James A. Feldman, Susan S. Gallagher, Mary Pat McKay, Edward Bernstein, Ted Colton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: Brief motivational interventions have shown promise in reducing harmful behaviors. The authors tested an intervention to increase safety belt use (SBU) among emergency department (ED) patients. Methods: From February 2006 to May 2006, the authors conducted a randomized trial of adult ED patients at a teaching hospital in Boston. ED patients were systematically sampled for self-reported SBU. Those with SBU other than "always" were asked to participate. At baseline, participants answered a 9-item series of situational SBU questions, each scored on a 5-point Likert scale. SBU was defined as a continuous variable (9-item average) and as a dichotomous variable (response of "always" across all items). Participants were randomized to an intervention or a control group. The intervention group received a 5- to 7-minute intervention, adapted from classic motivational interviewing techniques, by a trained interventionist. Participants completed a 3-month follow-up phone survey to determine changes from baseline SBU. Continuous and dichotomous SBU were analyzed via analysis of covariance and chisquare testing. Results: Of 432 eligible patients, 292 enrolled (mean age 35 years, standard deviation [SD] ±11 years; 61% male). At baseline, the intervention and control groups had similar mean (±SD) SBU scores (2.8 [±1.1] vs. 2.6 [±1.1], p = 0.31) and SBU prevalence (each 0%). At 3 months, 81% completed follow-up. The intervention group had significantly greater improvement in mean (±SD) SBU scores than controls (0.76 [±0.91] vs. 0.34 [±0.88], p < 0.001). Also, SBU prevalence of "always" was higher for the intervention group than controls (14.4% vs. 5.9%, p = 0.03). Conclusions: Participants receiving a brief motivational intervention reported higher SBU at follow-up compared to controls. An ED-based intervention may be useful to increase SBU.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-425
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Brief motivational intervention
  • Emergency department
  • Injury prevention
  • Safety belt use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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