Objective: To assess (a) the effect of home safety education and the provision of safety equipment on poison-prevention practices and poisoning rates, and (b) whether the effect of interventions differs by social group.
Data sources: Medline, Embase, Cinahl, ASSIA, Psychinfo, Web of Science, plus other electronic sources and hand searching of conference abstracts and reference lists. Authors of included studies were asked to supply individual participant data.
Review methods: Randomised controlled trials, non-randomised controlled trials and controlled before-and-after studies, with participants aged ⩽19 years, providing home safety education with or without free or subsidised safety equipment and reporting poison-prevention practices or poisoning incidents were included. Pooled odds ratios and pooled rate ratios were estimated, and meta-regression estimated intervention effects by child age, gender and social variables.
Results: Home safety interventions increased safe storage of medicines (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.22 to 2.02) and cleaning products (OR 1.63, 95% CI 1.22 to 2.17), the possession of syrup of ipecac (OR 3.34, 95% CI 1.50 to 7.41), and having poison control centre numbers accessible (OR 3.67, 95% CI 1.84 to 7.33). There was a lack of evidence on poisoning rates (rate ratio 1.03, 95% CI 0.78 to 1.36) and no consistent evidence that intervention effects differed by child age, gender or social group.
Conclusions: Home safety education and the provision of safety equipment improve poison-prevention practices, but the impact on poisoning rates is unclear. Such interventions are unlikely to widen inequalities in childhood poisoning-prevention practices.
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Competing interests: DK, CC, MW and AW undertook some of the trials included in this review. There are no other competing interests.