Background on Individual Education
What are individual education strategies?
- These strategies work to prevent motor vehicle injuries by enhancing individual knowledge and skills as well as altering attitudes and beliefs about motor vehicle safety.
- These interventions in general or specific populations may focus on increasing infant or child safety, decreasing drinking and driving, reducing pedestrian injury, reducing the extent of injury when accidents do occur (e.g., seat belt use), improving driving skills and behaviors.
How can I use individual education strategies in motor vehicle injury interventions?
- The specific strategies used to provide information differ based on the focus of the intervention. For example, information may be provided through individual counseling sessions or self-help materials such as newsletters, brochures, posters, fact sheets, videos, or websites. Other strategies may provide cues to action to remind people to engage in a specific behavior (e.g., billboards to encourage people to wear their seat belts) rather than specifically increasing knowledge. Most individual education interventions provide information to individuals, with some offering individuals opportunities to ask questions or get clarification (e.g., through a face to face session with a health educator).
How do “tailored messages” and “targeted messages” differ? How can I use these messages in motor vehicle injury interventions?
- Individual education interventions may work best when information is matched to the individual. “Tailored messages” take into account specific individual characteristics in creating a message about motor vehicle injury. Materials or strategies may be developed specifically to meet an individual’s characteristics in terms of readiness to change, attitudes, beliefs, current behaviors and other lifestyle characteristics. The concept of readiness to change (drawn from the Transtheoretical Model or Stages of Change) suggests that individuals may need different kinds of interventions to help them improve their safety behaviors depending on how ready they are to change their behaviors. For example, using a car or booster seat may not be a high priority for some individuals, while others may recognize the importance of these safety seats but don’t know how to use them.
- Tailored health education materials are developed based on characteristics that are unique to each individual; therefore, an individual assessment (e.g., survey, interview) is required in order to collect information specific to the individual.
- Alternately, other materials or strategies may be geared toward a specific subgroup of the population of interest (e.g., individuals who have visual impairments, older adults). These are often called “targeted messages” because they consider the specific needs of this subpopulation. In a similar manner, these strategies can be used to influence groups of people (e.g., help the targeted population identify times when driving may be more hazardous such as icy conditions or night driving), but the messages are not specific to each individual.
What is an example of a tailored message?
- Joan has just had a daughter and she has been thinking about using her old car seat. She knows that it is safer to have the infant in the car seat but disliked when her older child cried in the back seat and isn’t sure if her old car seat will fit in her new car. She also knows her two year old son should still be in a child seat, but she cannot imagine having to get two kids in and out of car seats each time she makes a trip. In this case, a message can be designed for Joan as follows:
- “Congratulations Joan! We know you want the best for your new daughter. Thinking about using a car seat is the first step to ensuring she is safe from motor vehicle injuries. As you get ready to leave the hospital, there will be a health educator who will help you to your car and show you how to install the infant safety seat and make sure your daughter is properly restrained in the seat. If, for some reason, your seat will not work, ask the health educator and she will make sure you get a new one. Remember that the car seat for your two year old should be placed in the back seat of the car, too. This is a perfect time for him to start modeling motor vehicle safety behaviors for his younger sister. Below you will find some hints about things you and your son can do if your daughter starts to cry.”
What is skill building and how can I use it in motor vehicle injury management interventions?
- Another common individual education intervention approach that is used to address motor vehicle injury is building the skills to change behavior (e.g., use of infant safety seats, improving perceptual skills while driving, or recognizing when someone is intoxicated and therefore should not drive). Skill building strategies can be tailored to individuals or targeted to the population of interest. Both tailored and targeted strategies can be delivered at one time or at regular intervals (e.g., weekly, monthly or quarterly). The intervention information can appear in the form of print, telephone, video or computer kiosk messages.
What else do I need to consider for motor vehicle injury interventions?
- Some studies describe advantages of an interactive, web-based tailored intervention over a more traditional print version, including: the ability to receive immediate feedback, an interactive nature similar to interpersonal counseling, and the ability to use graphics and other features to increase interest and attention. Furthermore, once on the web, the tailored intervention can reach a relatively larger group of people making it more cost-effective. . In addition, it can be updated continuously to include the most recent knowledge.
- Individual education interventions should be culturally sensitive, involve family and friends, and incorporate the individual’s readiness to change behavior, as appropriate. The content of the message may focus on a wide variety of topics, including: information (e.g., increasing people’s awareness of the importance of car or booster seats), barriers (e.g., not having access to car seats), or skill-building (e.g., how to tell if an individual is too intoxicated to drive).