240477 Newspaper reporting of off-road vehicle crashes

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:30 AM

Stephen Bowman, PhD, MHA , Center for Injury Research and Policy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Katherine Clegg Smith, PhD , Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
James Helmkamp, PhD, MS , NIOSH Western States Office, Denver, CO
Mary E. Aitken, MD, MPH , Pediatrics/Center for Applied Research and Evaluation, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
Background: Off-road vehicle crashes are serious causes of injury. Protective devices such as helmets are important, yet underutilized, prevention strategies. Public perception about the importance of protective devices may be influenced by publically reported information. Little is known about newspaper reporting of protective device use and other risk factors.

Methods: We examined articles from U.S. and Canadian newspapers using the LexisNexis Academic database for 10/1/2008 to 9/30/2010. Articles were included if 1) they reported an off-road vehicle crash (all-terrain vehicle/ATV, off-road motorcycle, or snowmobile), and 2) there was a fatality or an injury requiring medical attention.

Results: We identified 471 newspaper articles (67.8% U.S.) meeting our criteria, including 281 ATV, 13 motorcycle and 177 snowmobile crashes. Helmet use/non-use was mentioned in 47% of ATV crashes, 84.6% of off-road motorcycle crashes, and 33.3% of snowmobile crashes. When mentioned, 25.8% of ATV, 54.6% of off-road motorcycle, and 57.4% of snowmobile drivers reportedly wore helmets. Newspapers were more likely to report helmet use/non-use when a child (age<18) was involved (52.4% vs. 39.5%, p=0.01). For child ATV drivers, only 7 of 56 articles (13.5%) discussed age/size appropriateness, and only 1 reported that the ATV driven was of an appropriate size for the child. Canadian newspapers less frequently reported helmet use/non-use (34.2% vs. 47.0%, p<0.01); however, when mentioned, helmet use was more common among Canadians (52.0% vs. 30.8%, p<0.01).

Conclusions: Reporting of protective devices and associated crash risk factors by newspapers is low. Efforts to increase public health prevention messages in newspapers should be pursued.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe newspaper reporting of protective device use in off-road vehicle crashes resulting in injury and/or death. Compare differences in newspaper reporting for subgroups of injured people (e.g., children). Identify prevention opportunities in the media to reduce the impact of off-road vehicle crash injuries.

Keywords: Injury Prevention, Media

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I had full responsibility for all aspects of the study, from design and data collection through writing of the abstract. I have no conflict of interest to disclose.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.