Child Passenger Safety: An Assessment of Emergency Nurses’ Knowledge and Provision of Information in the Emergency Department

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Each year, more than 130,000 children younger than 13 years are treated in the emergency department after evaluation of injuries sustained from motor vehicle crashes (MVCs). Many of these injuries can be prevented with use of child restraints. In this study we sought to assess emergency nurses’ knowledge of child passenger safety (CPS) and its use to keep children safe while traveling in motor vehicles.


A cross-sectional anonymous study was distributed electronically to 530 emergency nurses who were asked to forward the survey link to other emergency nurses through snowball sampling. The target population included full-time and part-time emergency nurses, including nurse practitioners caring for pediatric patients. Emergency nurses’ CPS knowledge, attitudes, and practices were ascertained.


Nine hundred eighty-four emergency nurses completed a Web-based survey. All 6 CPS knowledge and scenario-based items were answered correctly by only 18.8% of the sample; these respondents were identified as the “high knowledge” group. Similarly, ED nurses rarely addressed CPS during ED visits in the prior 6 months. Those with high knowledge were more likely to be confident about providing recommendations for CPS topics.


Emergency nurses can improve their knowledge and provision of CPS in the emergency department, particularly for children presenting for care following MVCs. These results identify opportunities to increase the knowledge and confidence of emergency nurses in providing CPS information to parents seen in the emergency department, especially those involved in MVCs. The gap in knowledge can be overcome by providing the nurses with increased CPS-focused educational opportunities.

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