Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Sheryl Strasser, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Bridget Metzger, CCM, CRC, LPC




Introducing an Innovative Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Prevention Curriculum to Adolescents: Evaluation Results

(Under the direction of Sheryl Strasser, Ph.D.)


In the U.S., injuries account for over half of all deaths among persons age 1-44 which is more deaths than non-communicable and infectious diseases combined. Adolescents and males are disproportionately affected.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an injury prevention curriculum for adolescents.


A curriculum employing indirect instructional strategies was implemented with 7th graders in four local middle schools in Cobb County, Georgia. A 45-item test assessing 6 injury-related theoretical domains: awareness of severity, preventability, risk and susceptibility; intention to behave protectively and to advocate for safety, was administered at baseline, and 4 weeks later, following curriculum completion. Dependent t-tests were run to evaluate differences in average pre- and post-test responses. Independent t-tests were conducted to investigate gender differences.


A total of 678 matched pre- and post-tests were included in analysis, 44% male/56% female. Dependent t-test results revealed that respondents' awareness of severity, preventability, risk and susceptibility, as well as intention to behave protectively and advocate for safety, increased significantly. Significant post-test gender differences were only observed in the intention to behave protectively domain; where female gains were greater than male gains.


Results demonstrate the effectiveness of indirect instructional strategies which make positive use of adolescent egocentrism, an important characteristic that puts adolescents at greater risk for brain and spinal cord injury. This curriculum demonstrates promise in influencing adolescents' beliefs in invincibility. Future studies should evaluate effectiveness in other communities and amongst students with diverse socio-demographic backgrounds.