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Motor Vehicle Injury – Child Safety Seats: Education Programs When Used Alone


What the CPSTF Found

About The Systematic Review

The CPSTF finding is based on evidence from a systematic review of six studies (search period through March 1998).

The review was conducted on behalf of the CPSTF by scientists from CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention with input from a team of specialists in systematic review methods and experts in research, practice and policy related to motor vehicle injury prevention.

Summary of Results

More details about study results are available in the published evidence review pdf icon [PDF - 2.43 MB].

The systematic review included six studies.

  • Programs that targeted parents (3 studies) and children (1 study) did not significantly increase correct use of child passenger safety seats.
  • The remaining two studies evaluated programs that targeted different types of professional groups (i.e., healthcare providers and law enforcement officers) and used different outcome measures; it was not possible to draw conclusions.

Summary of Economic Evidence

An economic review of this intervention was not conducted because CPSTF did not have enough information to determine if the intervention works.


Applicability of this intervention across different settings and populations was not assessed because CPSTF did not have enough information to determine if the intervention works.

Evidence Gaps

CPSTF identified several areas that have limited information. Additional research and evaluation could help answer the following questions and fill remaining gaps in the evidence base. (What are evidence gaps?)

  • What amount and quality of educational content are necessary to improve knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors?
  • What are appropriate educational messages and methods for delivery to children at various developmental stages?
  • What are the appropriate outcomes to measure when educating young children about the use of child safety seats?
  • Is education alone effective to do any of the following?
    • Increase parental use of child safety seats
    • Increase children’s independent use of child safety seats
    • Increase enforcement of child safety seat laws by law enforcement officials
    • Encourage hospital personnel to develop and enforce policies about child safety seat use
  • Does education alone increase or reduce misuse of child safety seats?
  • What is the role of education in facilitating the effectiveness of other interventions (e.g., legislation, loaner programs)?
  • What is the cost of interventions?

Study Characteristics

  • Included studies were implemented in hospitals, preschools, and work sites. Interventions targeted specific populations (parents, children, or professional groups).
  • Educational programs for parents focused only on safety seat use among infants; none of the programs looked at the effect of education for parents of older children.
  • Urban and suburban populations of low, middle, and upper socioeconomic status were represented in some of the studies.