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Physician Counsel Has No Effect on Motor Vehicle Safety

Routine in-office counseling doesn't improve seat-belt compliance, drinking-and-driving behavior

TUESDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- There is little evidence that primary care providers who counsel patients about the correct use of child safety seats and seat belts -- and the importance of not drinking and driving -- have a significant effect, according to two reports published in the Aug. 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In the first report, Ned Calonge, M.D., of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in Denver, along with other members of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force conducted a systematic review of English-language studies published through 2005. In the second study, Selvi B. Williams, M.D., of Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., and colleagues reviewed 17 randomized, controlled trials and controlled clinical trials.

Both studies found that community-based programs foster the proper use of child safety seats and seat belts, and that targeted counseling of persons with a history of alcohol abuse or drunk-driving arrests helps reduce future accidents. But neither study found that routine physician counseling on driving safety provided any additional benefits.

"Because the evidence is lacking to suggest a clear benefit from counseling about motor vehicle safety during regular doctors' visits, doctors and patients may choose to spend time on other preventive care issues during doctors' visits," according to an accompanying summary for patients. "However, because counseling is unlikely to be harmful, some doctors may choose to make it a regular part of their visits."

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Summary for Patients

Physician's Briefing