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Journal Article


Mok D, Gore G, Hagel BE, Mok E, Magdalinos H, Pless IB. Paediatr. Child Health (1996) 2004; 9(5): 327-330.


McGill University Faculty of Medicine, The Montreal Children's Hospital, Montreal, Quebec.


(Copyright © 2004, Canadian Paediatric Society, Publisher Pulsus Group)








BACKGROUND: The intent of protective equipment (PE) in sports and leisure activities is to reduce injuries. However, some postulate that any safety measure prompts riskier behaviour, a phenomenon known as 'risk homeostasis' or 'risk compensation.' This study explores one approach to examining this in children. The rationale for this pilot study was to establish if children between six and 16 years old could answer questions about risk-taking sensibly and which questions, if any, could be eliminated; to establish the reliability of response; and to determine the numbers needed for a definitive study. METHODS: Sixty-three children with nonsevere injuries, ages six to 16 years, were interviewed while waiting to be seen at the Montreal Children's Hospital emergency department. An interviewer administered a questionnaire comprising three sections. The first part only applied to those who were injured in an activity for which some form of PE was available (n=19). The second part examined customary risk-taking behaviour using the thrill and adventure seeking scales of a standardized questionnaire (Zuckerman) (n=63). The third section posed hypothetical questions about likely risk-taking when using PE to those who had engaged in such activities (n=58). RESULTS: The approach and questionnaire proved feasible with this age group. The responses suggest that children wearing PE were more likely to report increased risk-taking than those who did not wear PE. For most of the hypothetical questions, the majority also reported changes toward riskier behaviour when using PE. However, those wearing PE scored lower on the thrill and adventure seeking scale, suggesting that they are, by nature, less venturesome. CONCLUSION: The results indicate that risk compensation may modify the effectiveness of PE for children engaged in sports and leisure activities. Conversely, the findings also suggest that those wearing PE may be a cautious subgroup.

Language: en


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