Authors: Marlenga B, Berg RL, Gallagher SS
J Agromedicine. 2017;22(2):71-77
OBJECTIVES: The news media can be important sources of health information. News reports of child agricultural injuries were examined to assess what was reported and to evaluate potential implications for health communication and surveillance efforts.
METHODS: A content analysis was conducted of a convenience sample of 113 US news reports from 2012 to 2014 involving agricultural injuries to children less than 18 years of age. The data collection instrument included basic elements of injury surveillance, as well as variables related to injury causation and prevention.
RESULTS: Law enforcement personnel were the main source of information on the injury event (79%). Severity, age, sex, injury mechanism, and source were reported more than 90% of the time. However, few news reports mentioned use or lack of protective equipment (12%) or a prevention message (6%). Recommended prevention messages from the research team included keeping young children out of the farm worksite (38%) and following guidelines for age-appropriate work and recreational activities (31%).
CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that news reports provide a valuable and relatively inexpensive addition to other childhood agricultural injury data sources. They highlight current serious events and have potential to be an effective communication tool with respect to education, prevention, and framing the public's perception of injury risk. An important next step may be to partner with law enforcement to develop three to five prevention messages that can be shared with reporters to educate readers on risks and steps that can be taken to prevent similar injuries on farms and ranches.