|Paige S. Cucchi, MSPH||Sandra Owen, MEd, FASHA|
|Public Education Coordinator||Clinical Faculty|
|Georgia Poison Center||College of Education, Georgia StateUniversity|
continues to be one of the leading causes of injury and death in the United
Sates. Every year, over four million people are unintentionally poisoned.
Children are at greatest risk for poisoning. In 1994, over one million childhood
poisoning cases were reported nationwide. The Georgia Poison Center received
over 43,000 poisoning calls involving children under the age of thirteen in
1994. Although the number of childhood poisoning deaths has decreased in recent
years, poisoning remains a major cause of hospitalizations, emergency room
visits and calls to regional poison centers.
Georgia Poison Center recognizes the problem of childhood poisoning in Georgia
and is committed to educating children and families across Georgia about the
dangers of poisons. As part of this commitment the Poison Center has spent
nearly two years designing the Poison Prevention Curriculum. The Poison
Prevention Curriculum is a comprehensive program designed to increase the
ability of children, kindergarten through third Grades, to protect themselves
and others from the harm of poisons. By teaching this age group how to prevent
poisonings, they learn to be safe sitters, safe siblings, and eventually, safe
The Curriculum is built on a foundation of epidemiological data, health behavior and health education theory, early childhood education theory, and knowledge of childhood development. Data on poisoning in Georgia was collected and analyzed by health educators at the Georgia Poison Center. The analysis revealed epidemiological information on poisoning including the extent, cause, and nature of poisoning. The data indicated that several substances are commonly involved with childhood poisonings, including household products, personal hygiene products, medications and plants. Further research was conducted to determine behavioral and environmental risk factors which increase the risk of a child being poisoned. Factors found to be significant include a childís:
The epidemiological analysis provided a better understanding of the poisoning problem in Georgia. To address the problem, Georgia Poison Center Health Educators began the development of a Poison Prevention Curriculum to teach children to:
The Poison Center formed a partnership with the College of Education at Georgia State University to develop the comprehensive Curriculum. A variety of experts in the fields of pediatrics, toxicology, injury prevention and education were consulted throughout the development of the Curriculum. In August 1995, the Poison Center conducted a focus group to gather input on the content and usability of the Curriculum. Ten teachers, representing schools throughout Georgia, participated in the program.
Curriculum was further tested in a case/control pilot study with 426 students in
an elementary school in Georgia. The study to was designed to assess the
effectiveness of the Program as a means to change the studentís knowledge,
attitude and behaviors about poison prevention. The results of the Pilot
indicated that the Curriculum was effective in increasing the studentís level
of knowledge and behavior intent regarding poison safety.
Poisonings are preventable. Poison prevention is requires the modification of individualsí attitudes, behaviors and environmental conditions. The Poison Prevention Curriculum was designed to encourage the adoption of long-term behavior change and safe and healthy environments. A great deal of time and effort went into the Poison Prevention Curriculum to ensure its success. Some additional key elements of the Curriculum include itís: