Consumer Product Safety Commission: Better Data Collection and Assessment of Consumer Information Efforts Could Help Protect Minority Children

GAO-09-731 Published: Aug 05, 2009. Publicly Released: Aug 05, 2009.
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In 2004, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that 29,400 deaths in the United States were related to consumer products. As required under Section 107 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, this study reviews what is known about the relative incidence of preventable injuries and deaths among minority children associated with products intended for children's use and also examines what actions CPSC has taken through its public information and education initiatives to minimize these injuries and deaths. To address these issues, we assessed injury and death data sources used by CPSC, compared CPSC's consumer education efforts with key practices, and interviewed federal officials and groups representing the health and consumer interests of minority populations.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Consumer Product Safety Commission To better understand the relative risk of product-related injury among minority and nonminority children, the Commission should, in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), develop and implement cost-effective means of improving CPSC's data collection on factors that may contribute to differences in the incidence of injury and death related to specific types of consumer products, including race, ethnicity, and other patient characteristics. For example, steps CPSC could consider include improving the NEISS racial and ethnic classification system; working with NEISS hospitals to improve collection of data on patient race and ethnicity; and leveraging related data collection efforts, such as those sponsored by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics, or the National Institutes of Health.
Closed – Implemented
In response to this recommendation, CPSC modified the NEISS data collection software to align with the Office of Management and Budget standards for maintaining, collecting, and presenting federal data on race. The new racial/ethnic classification system went into effect on January 1, 2010. In addition, CPSC began exploring other data sources, including those sponsored by HHS, to determine if it would be feasible to gather consumer product-related death and injury data involving minority children.
Consumer Product Safety Commission To better understand the relative risk of product-related injury among minority and nonminority children and to improve the effectiveness of consumer information efforts, the Commission should develop and implement cost-effective ways to enhance and assess the likelihood that CPSC's safety messages are received and implemented by all the intended audiences. For example, CPSC could consider convening groups of consumers or Neighborhood Safety Network members to advise on the design and implementation of campaigns targeted to specific communities, surveying NSN members, establishing metrics to measure NSN's success, and evaluating the effectiveness of information campaigns targeted to the racial and ethnic groups at highest risk of drowning as part of its implementation of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
Closed – Implemented
In response to this recommendation, CPSC organized a minority outreach team in 2010 that developed materials and participated in community events in several cities. The events involved direct outreach to the African American, Hispanic, Asian Pacific American, and American Indian communities and focused on four critical safety hazards that affect consumers in the home: safe sleep environment, poison prevention, pool and spa safety, and TV and furniture tip over prevention. These activities were developed using key practices for planning effective education/outreach campaigns, taking into consideration such factors as target audiences, clear messaging, identifying credible messengers, and utilizing a mix of media methods. CPSC also identified the methods they are using to assess the effectiveness in reaching target audiences with its safety messages.

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