Little is known about the barriers to use of child car seats in Australian Aboriginal communities, or the acceptability of programs to increase appropriate car seat use. This formative evaluation sought to consult and partner with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) to develop and evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a program intended to improve optimal use of child car seats.
Focus groups were conducted with parents and carers of Aboriginal children to identify the barriers and facilitating factors for child car seat use, and staff of two ACCHS were interviewed to inform program development. Following the implementation of the resulting multi-faceted program, consisting of staff training, education, hands-on demonstrations and a subsidised car seat distribution scheme, interviews were conducted to assess process issues and acceptability with 13 staff members.
Parents and carers in the focus groups reported a lack of awareness of child car seat use, confusion about the right car seats for different aged children but agreed about the importance of safety and community responsibility to keep children safe in cars. Interviews with service staff informed an approach to deliver relevant information. Information and resources were delivered to families, while the car seat distribution scheme supplied 33 families with child car seats. Following the conclusion of the program, staff reported that the program was relevant to their role. They also valued the car seat distribution scheme. Staff training in selection and installation of car seats increased confidence in staff knowledge.
We developed a program to promote child car seat use in ACCHS, which focused on developing capacity, made use of existing infrastructure and developed resources for use in this setting. The program shows promise as a means to promote child car seat use in Aboriginal communities; however, the impact on child car seat use will need to be evaluated in a larger scale prospective trial.