Articles - Responses to the Problem
Trying to Increase Smoke Alarm Use
Efficacy and Cost-effectiveness of strategies to increase smoke alarm use in three communities in Massachusetts- 1997-2000
Ramya Sundararaman, MD, MPH1, Cynthia Rodgers, MSPH2, Tracy Fisk2, Olivia Derridiner2, and David Robinson3. (1) Injury Prevention, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Massachusetts Department of Public HEalth, 250 Washington Street, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02108, 617-624-5402, firstname.lastname@example.org, (2) Injury Prevention and Control Program, Massachusetts Dept of Public Health, 250 Washington Street, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02108, (3) Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) has demonstrated effective promotion of residential smoke alarms for high-risk populations. The Residential Fire Injury Prevention Project was designed to evaluate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of three different strategies to increase smoke alarm use in targeted communities. MDPH’s Injury Prevention and Control Program tested strategies to increase homes with functioning smoke alarms. One strategy was tested for each of three low income, urban communities whose fire injury rates were well above the state average and which had significant rates of poor minority households with elderly and children under age 6. In Community A, the intervention included a home visit, baseline questionnaire, fire safety education, and smoke alarm installation. In Community B, the intervention included a home visit, baseline questionnaire, education, and coupon for free smoke alarms. In Community C, intervention consisted of a public education campaign, recruitment and baseline questionnaires and offer of free smoke alarms. Follow-up home visits were made to assess smoke alarm use and maintenance. Process monitoring was accomplished through documentation of state and local program activities, key participant interviews, and observation. Outcome measures included observation of presence, location and functionality of smoke alarms in homes at program inception and 12 months later. The voucher method for distributing and maintaining smoke alarms appears to be most effective to increase working smoke alarms in high risk residences in urban communities.