Saint Louis University School of Public Health has received three grants totaling nearly $700,000 to develop educational tools aimed at reducing preventable childhood injuries, which are the leading cause of death in children, according to Nancy Weaver, Ph.D., assistant professor of community health at SLU's School of Public Health and principal investigator of the projects.
|Nancy Weaver, Ph.D.|
All three projects build upon the successful Safe N' Sound program, a computer-based program that Weaver and her team created. The program uses parents' survey answers to highlight safety risks in their homes and cars and then creates personalized solutions to help prevent injuries.
Previous studies of the Safe N' Sound program found that parents who received tailored safety information from the program were significantly more likely to adopt the safety recommendations than those who received generic materials. Safe N' Sound has been adopted by clinic practices in four states and translated into Spanish.
The first grant is a two-year, $350,000 grant from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control to distribute Safe N' Sound to children's hospitals across the country. Weaver and her team have partnered with the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI) and Carolina's Medical Center on this project.
The project began in May with a comprehensive benchmarking survey of members to assess the injury prevention work that children's hospitals are currently undertaking. Once the survey is complete, NACHRI members will be invited to implement Safe N' Sound in their offices.
"With this study, we're interested in seeing what kinds of organizational factors play a role in whether the program is implemented. Safe N' Sound is very effective, but in order to reach parents we need to effectively partner with hospitals," Weaver said.
With the second grant, a three-year, $243,500 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Weaver will build off the Safe N' Sound program model to create and evaluate a program that promotes positive parenting.
"While there are systems in place to address child abuse when it happens, there are very few efforts underway to prevent abuse and neglect from happening in the first place," Weaver said. "Teaching parents how to use positive parenting strategies is one way to decrease this risk of maltreatment."
Like Safe N' Sound, the new program will be initially offered in pediatric clinics, beginning with the Danis Pediatric Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, and will provide parents with personalized materials. According to Weaver, the specific goals of the new program are to promote nurturing parenting behaviors, teach parents about age-appropriate child behaviors, help parents connect with their social networks and community resources, and teach parents how to cope during high-stress times.
The final grant is a $100,000 grant from the St. Louis Community/University Health Research Partnership (CUHRP), which is jointly funded by Saint Louis University, Washington University and BJC HealthCare. SLU's School of Public Health and Nurses for Newborns are working together to adapt the Safe N Sound program to be used during home visits with at risk mothers and their babies.
In the pilot project, registered nurses will visit 300 families and will conduct a brief safety checks as well as their usual home visit activities. In addition to educating parents about common injuries and how to prevent them, nurses will provide parents with safety supplies that they do not already have including bath thermometers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, Pack-n-Plays, window locks and car seats.
"Partnering with Nurses for Newborns for this project makes perfect sense. Nurses for Newborns has been operating in St. Louis and surrounding counties for nearly 20 years. Their visitation programs are ingrained in the community and have proven successful, while SLU's School of Public Health offers expertise in evidence-based injury control strategies," Weaver said.
"By working together we believe we can create a sustainable program that reaches those most at risk and reduces early childhood injuries that occur in the home and car."
Weaver has been active in the areas of injury prevention, physical activity and health communication for the past 15 years. She is also an investigator with the Brown Center for Violence and Injury Prevention, an Injury Control Research Center (ICRC) funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Accredited since 1991, Saint Louis University School of Public Health remains the only accredited school of public health in Missouri. It is one of 46 fully accredited public health schools in the U.S. and the only accredited Jesuit or Catholic school in the nation.