were significantly less likely to call a poison control center than those schooled in the United States. Although knowledge about poisonings and the availability of a poison control center differed between those who called and those who did not, 68 percent of those who did not call indicated that they knew about the center. Thus, having knowledge of the existence of the poison control center does not guarantee that an individual will call the center.

Kelly et al. (2003) found that lower utilization of poison control centers by Spanish-speaking parents was attributable to a lack of confidence in center staff, greater trust in their own family physicians, and a lack of knowledge about the severity of different poisons. In this study, videotapes were used successfully to both increase knowledge and encourage changes in behavior of women attending classes at a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children clinic. Conclusions were based on pre-post questions administered to matched control and treatment samples. Significant differences between the groups were found in knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions following the videotape intervention. It was suggested by the authors that this intervention might prove useful in other low-income, ethnically diverse areas.


Although several populations are at disproportionate risk for poisoning (e.g., the elderly, alcohol and drug abusers, workers in certain high-risk occupations), the majority of public education materials focus on preventing unintentional childhood injuries. Although poison control center education efforts cover the United States, there is substantial variability among centers in the amount of material distributed (under 7,000 pieces to more than 2 million) and the number of offsite activities (6 to more than 1,500). Some centers rely heavily on materials produced by AAPCC, while others develop their own. The focus of these efforts has been on unintentional, minor poisonings in children under 6 years of age; little effort has been directed toward prevention activities for the broader population, for serious poisonings, or for individuals intentionally poisoning themselves.

A few programs have been developed based on a careful analysis of target audience characteristics such as age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, and have attempted to follow models in developing and evaluating their campaigns. The following sections briefly discuss the education activities of AAPCC; describe the education staff at the poison control centers; provide examples of model-based educational programs developed by centers; and describe collaborative efforts, including activities involved in National Poison Prevention Week.

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