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Inequalities in cycle helmet use: cross sectional survey in schools in deprived areas of Nottingham


Aims: To describe cycle helmet owning and wearing among children in a deprived area and to investigate the association between helmet ownership and wearing and socioeconomic deprivation.

Methods: Cross sectional survey in 28 primary schools in deprived areas of Nottingham; 1061 year 5 schoolchildren were studied.

Results: All year 5 children attending school on the day of the survey completed the questionnaire (87% of children registered at participating schools). Children residing in a deprived area were less likely to own a bike and more likely to ride it four days a week or more. Half the children owned a helmet (52%), but only 29% of these always wore their helmet. Children in deprived areas were less likely to own a helmet, but those that owned a helmet were not less likely to always wear one. Family encouragement and parental warning of dangers of not wearing a helmet were associated with increased helmet ownership rates. Family encouragement and best friends wearing a helmet were associated with higher rates of helmet wearing.

Conclusions: Programmes aimed at preventing head injury among child cyclists will need to address the inequality in helmet ownership that exists between children residing in deprived and non-deprived areas. Strategies to increase family encouragement to wear a helmet may be useful, as may those recognising the importance of the attitudes and behaviours of peers, such as peer education programmes. Further work is required to assess how exposure to risk of cycling injury varies with deprivation.

  • cycle helmet
  • inequality
  • injury prevention

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