Making an Impact on the high-risk behaviour of teens

LONDON, ON, Dec. 2, 2013 /CNW/ - For over 20 years, London Health Sciences Centre's (LHSC) trauma program has been making an impact on the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of teenagers to reduce drinking/drugging and driving through its Impact program.  Impact aims to heighten teen awareness of the potential consequences of high-risk behaviour.

On National Safe Driving Week, Dec. 1 - 7, LHSC's trauma program has announced that the Impact program, supported since 2007 by Children's Health Foundation, will be expanded to incorporate other driving issues teenagers are facing such as distraction and fatigue and behavioural issues such as binge drinking and peer pressure.

Over the past year, LHSC's injury prevention team conducted focus groups with over 200 grade 10 and 11 students at 10 London and surrounding area secondary schools. "We wanted a fresh understanding of all the issues affecting teenagers and driving in order to educate them about the consequences of high-risk behaviour in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them," says Jane Harrington, injury prevention specialist, LHSC.

The focus groups at secondary schools revealed that 55 percent of high school students surveyed drank alcohol in the past year, 22 per cent had used cannabis in the last year, 14 per cent had used opioid pain relievers in the last year and 8.7 per cent had smoked cigarettes. Notably, the use of drugs increases with grade.

"Many of the results we found were expected, but we also received feedback from students about texting and driving, self-harm, abusive relationships, same sex relationships, and peer pressure," continues Harrington. "These issues do not affect teenage driving behaviours, but they can lead to injury."

Students were also asked about the effectiveness of injury prevention messages and identified that they would like presentations to focus on personal experiences with relevant video and images.

Acting upon that feedback, LHSC's trauma program partnered with Josh Field Support Network, a non-profit, family based organization, with the mission of raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.  Together, they created a video to be shown during Impact presentations that would provide a personal and relevant experience.

The video - "Distracted Driving - Josh's Story" - focuses on the impact that one moment of distraction still has on Josh's family, friends and a community four years after Josh was tragically killed in a motor vehicle collision.

"Distracted Driving - Josh's Story" can be viewed on LHSC's Youtube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/LHSCCanada

About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been at the forefront of medicine in Canada for 138 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children's Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, the Kidney Care Centre, two family medical centres, and two research institutes - Children's Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 65 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital's nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca

Children's Health Foundation is dedicated to raising and granting funds to support Children's Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre, Thames Valley Children's Centre and Children's Health Research Institute. Since 1922, funds raised have helped deliver exceptional care and support for children and their families by providing specialized paediatric care, equipment, education programs, therapy, rehabilitation services and research. To learn more about how you can positively impact the health of children, youth and their families, please visit www.childhealth.ca.

SOURCE London Health Sciences Centre

For further information:

For media inquiries contact:       

Marek Kubow
Corporate Communications and Public Relations
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 75155
Marek.Kubow@lhsc.on.ca

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