What Works In Preventing Unintentional Injuries In Children And Young Adolescents? An updated systematic review

  • Published: Community Child Health, Department of Child Health, University of Newcastle upon Tyne prepared for the NHS Health Development Agency, 2005
  • Authors: E. Towner, T. Dowswell, C. Mackereth and S. Jarvis
  • Date Added: 15 Mar 2013
  • Last Update: 12 Feb 2016
  • Format: pdf


An attempt to answer the question: ‘How effective are health promotion interventions in preventing unintentional injuries in childhood and young adolescence?’

To examine the role of education, environmental modification and legislation and combinations of these approaches in injury prevention in the road, home and leisure environments.


A systematic review of studies published between 1975 and 2000, summarised in table form with accompanying commentary and a guide to effectiveness. While research relating to a variety of hazards and injuries was looked at, the majority (61 per cent) concerned the prevention of injuries in the road environment. The target population was children aged 0-14 years old.

Key Findings:

  • There is now good or reasonable evidence that the implementation of 20 mph zones and area-wide urban safety measures are effective in reducing injuries and effecting behavioural changes (slower speeds) , and cost-effective. There is reasonable evidence that education measures aimed at the child or parent are effective in changing behaviour and reducing pedestrian injuries in the road environment.

  • The presence of school crossing patrols may reduce the number of RTIs involving child pedestrians.

  • Pedestrian skills training programmes have been shown to improve children’s skills (such as timing and finding safe places to cross), provided that they are specifically targeted.

  • Practical roadside experience is an essential ingredient of pedestrian skills training.

  • More evidence needed that pedestrian skills training reduced child injuries.

  • Traffic clubs using age-paced materials designed to promote parental teaching have been shown to be more effective than school based traffic clubs in effecting behaviour change.

  • Road safety programmes combining educational and environmental measures in an integrated package show some potential but more rigorous research is required.

  • Young people are hard to reach and more user involvement in programme design could be beneficial.


Child road safety, Behavioural change.


Review of research conducted.