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Family stress and childhood accidents : a study of time relationship between stress-producing events within the family and childhood accidents Boon, Joan Elizabeth

Abstract

A descriptive study of family stress and childhood accidents was carried out as a group project, under the joint auspices of the Faculty of Medicine and the School of Social Work at The University of British Columbia. It was designed as a behavioral approach to the prevention of childhood accidents. The hypothesis developed and tested was: there is a significant relationship in time, specifically within 30 days, between the occurrence of stress-producing events in the family and accidents resulting in injury to one or more children of that family. A review of the literature indicates that accidents may be symptoms of disorder in the family. In keeping with the holistic view of human behavior, a broad, interrelated systems approach was utilized, integrating the theories of role and ego functioning as a conceptual framework to study the relationship of psychosocial factors to accidents. The population of families of 40 accident-repeater children was derived from an earlier epidemiological study of pedestrian traffic accidents involving children, undertaken by the Departments of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics, The University of British Columbia. The families were interviewed and material was collected by means of research interviews based on an Interview Survey Guide which was specifically devised. The findings point up that the hypothesis was not validated within the narrow time period of 30 days, and there were strong indications that isolated stress was not related to the occurrence of childhood accidents. However, in some of these families prolonged stressful situations and multiple accidents were found to coincide. Therefore, this is one area which merits a future study - prospective in nature. The challenge to social work in such a significant problem as childhood accidents is very apparent. The study clearly indicates the ways in which social workers as members of community or agency interdisciplinary teams, with their particular knowledge, attitudes and skills can contribute to accident prevention. Their efforts may be developed in the following areas: direct family treatment, family life education, creation and development of community resources, encouragement of community participation and broader public safety education.

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