Intended for healthcare professionals


Preventing dog bites in children: randomised controlled trial of an educational intervention

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 03 June 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1512
  1. Simon Chapman, associate professor (,
  2. John Cornwall, consultantb,
  3. John Cornwall, consultantb,
  4. Joanne Righetti, consultantb,
  5. Lynne Sung, consultantb
  1. Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
  2. Delta Society Australia, 6/3 Spring Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: S Chapman
  • Accepted 6 March 2000

Dog bites are a major cause of injury, particularly in children.1 2 Guidelines on prevention are generally unevaluated and include controls on high risk breeds, keeping dogs on a leash, animal training, and educating dog owners.3 4 However, there are no evaluations of interventions designed to teach people how to avoid being attacked by a dog.

“Prevent-a-Bite” is an educational programme designed for primary school children.5 The programme aims to instil precautionary behaviour around dogs, assuming that this might reduce the incidence of attacks. A randomised controlled trial of the efficacy of the intervention was conducted in Australian children aged 7-8 years who were presented with an unsupervised opportunity to approach a strange dog.

Participants, methods, and results

Eight primary schools in metropolitan Sydney were randomly selected to participate in the trial. All agreed. The schools were cluster randomised into intervention and non-intervention control schools (four in each group), and two classes in each …

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