Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Characterizing the Teachable Moment: Is an Emergency Department Visit a Teachable Moment for Intervention Among Assault-Injured Youth and Their Parents?

Johnson, Sara B. PhD, MPH*†; Bradshaw, Catherine P. PhD, M.Ed.; Wright, Joseph L. MD, MPH§∥¶; Haynie, Denise L. PhD, MPH**; Simons-Morton, Bruce G. Ed.D., MPH**; Cheng, Tina L. MD, MPH††

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e31812c6687
Original Articles

Objectives: Injury interventions often invoke the teachable moment (TM); however, there is scant empirical research examining this construct with violent injuries. We sought to operationalize the TM construct and to determine whether an emergency department (ED) visit was a TM for intervention among assault-injured adolescents and their parents.

Setting and Participants: One hundred sixty-eight youth (age, 10-15 years) and their parents presenting to the ED with interpersonal assault injuries at 2 urban medical centers.

Methods and Analysis: Data were collected using ED record abstraction and interviews. Interview questions assessed perceived injury severity, perceived susceptibility, and preventability/ability to avoid future conflict. Data were examined by age, sex, weapon involvement, and time elapsed between injury and interview. Factor analysis was used to identify the components of the TM construct, and a TM index was created for youth and parents.

Results: Youth and parents found their trip to the ED moderately stressful, although parents perceived more stress than youth. Older youth (13-15 years old) and the parents of younger youth (10-12 years old) were most likely to see their injuries as preventable. The parent TM index was positively correlated with parent-reported aggression (r = 0.16, P < 0.03); the youth's TM index scores were associated with the time elapsed since the event (r = −0.16, P = 0.03).

Conclusions: This study provides preliminary support for the TM after assault injuries. The TM index may be a first step toward an assessment that can differentiate individuals who are amenable to violence prevention intervention from those who are not.

*University of California, San Francisco; †University of California, Berkeley, CA; ‡Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, Baltimore, MD; §Children's Research Institute, ∥George Washington University School of Medicine and School of Public Health, ¶Department of Emergency Medicine, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC; **National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Prevention Research Branch, Bethesda and ††Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.

This study was supported by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Emergency Medical Services for Children (T.C.), S. J. is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at UCSF and UC Berkeley. She gratefully acknowledges their financial support.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Sara B. Johnson, PhD, MPH, University of California, San Francisco, 3333 California St, Suite 465, San Francisco, CA 94118-0844. E-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.