Suggested Video Use

The overall purpose of the Boost ’em in the Back Seat Video is to increase parents and caregivers’ knowledge of recommended guidelines for rear seat and booster seat use, causes of injury, and advantages for booster seat and rear seat use. Caregivers of booster-aged children are a particularly difficult population to reach because they (a) do not consider their children to be of “safety seat” age, and (b) have inherently low perceptions of vulnerability to crash injury (Will, 2005; Will & Geller, 2004). Unfortunately, most current booster-seat programs fail to adequately reach their intended population because they are primarily informational in nature and rely on caregivers to seek out the information. To address this problem, a more aggressive intervention utilizing social marketing and threat-appeal techniques is needed to more appropriately target participation and perceptions of vulnerability (Will, 2005). According to the latest research on risk communication, threat-appeals are strongly supported when they contain both a high threat component and a high efficacy component (Witte, 1998; Witte & Allen, 2000). Threat-appeal tactics are particularly desirable when perception of vulnerability is low, as is the case with parents of booster-aged children (Will, 2005).

To be cost-effective for mass distribution of information, safety advocates should not only focus on communicating risk effectively, but also should consider carefully the best distribution points for the audience. Parents of booster-age children who are not using booster seats do not typically attend safety-seat checkup events. Nor do they view booster seat videos, websites, or brochures on their own. A key social marketing principle (“place”) dictates that particular focus should be given to locating appropriate means of distribution that can effectively reach a particular audience (Kotler & Zaltman, 1971). For instance, establishing well-baby clinics, car seat clinics, and WIC clinics at physician offices and health departments as places for the program ensures adequate distribution channels to parents, thus, enhancing program effectiveness.

To that end, the Boost ’em in the Back Seat Video can be best utilized and shown to parents and/or caregivers by making it available to professionals (safety advocates, doctors, nurses, teachers) who regularly interact with parents of 5-8 year-old children. Our ongoing research has shown that the video can be seamlessly integrated into an clinic or doctor’s office routine without over-burdening the staff or complicating a parent’s visit. For example, previous partner sites have opted to show the video on portable DVD players or on TV/VCRs during the wait-times (in the main waiting area or in exam rooms) at healthcare agencies. Other partners have incorporated the video into their safety trainings for professionals and/or parents. Hospital partners have opted to integrate the video into the closed cable television feed so that the video can be delivered with other health television programs and be shown to patients during hospital stays.

The video can be used in an endless number of ways; however, keep in mind that your method of delivery matters when working with parents. Bear in mind that the intervention must compete and combat many parental biases, including but not limited to:

  • low perceived risk regarding crash injury;
  • disbelief in the effectiveness of booster seats versus safety belts;
  • poor understanding of the power of crash forces;
  • poor confidence in their ability to get their children to use a booster seat;
  • situational barriers to the adoption of booster seats (e.g., cost, child conflict);
  • confusions contributed by legal loopholes; and
  • the pressures of social influence stemming from nonuse being normative.

The video is specifically designed to combat these biases, but these very biases also reduce the likelihood that a parent will voluntarily watch the video (even when given a free personal copy). For this reason, we try (when possible) to find ways to show the video to parents rather than just giving them a copy.

See our related publication in Health Promotion Practice: (doi:10.1177/1524839910393279).


Kotler, P., & Zaltman, G. (1971). Social Marketing: An approach to planned social change. Journal of Marketing, 35, 3-12.

Will, K. E. (2005). Child passenger safety and the immunity fallacy: Why what we are doing is not working. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 37, 947-955.

Will, K. E., & Geller, E. S. (2004). Increasing the safety of children’s vehicle travel: From effective risk communication to behavior change. Journal of Safety Research, 35, 263-274.

Witte, K. (1998). Fear as motivator, fear as inhibitor: Using the extended parallel process model to explain fear appeal successes and failures. In P. A. Andersen & L. K. Guerrero (Eds.), Handbook of communication and emotion (424-451). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Witte, K., & Allen, M. (2000). A meta-analysis of fear appeals: Implications for effective public health campaigns. Health Education & Behavior, 27, 591-615.