Cool Runnings: an app-based intervention for preventing hot beverage scalds

Jacqueline Burgess1, Roy Kimble1, KerrianneWatt2, Cate Cameron3

1 Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, University of Queensland. Brisbane, Queensland 4101.
2 College of Public Health, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811
3 Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Logan campus, Meadowbrook, Queensland 4131

In Australia, hot beverage scalds account for 18% of all childhood burns – a figure that has remained constant for the past decade. Another constant is the poor knowledge of correct burn first aid in the general public.

Cool Runnings is a two-group, parallel, single-blinded randomised control trial to evaluate the efficacy of a smartphone app-based injury prevention intervention. This intervention combined gamification and behaviour change strategies to increase knowledge and awareness of hot beverage scald risks and burn first aid among mothers of young children. Queensland-based mothers aged 18+ who own a smartphone and have at least one child aged 5-12 months were eligible to participate. The recruitment, consent and intervention were all completed online.

499 participants from regional, rural and remote Queensland were recruited via social media in 29 days. 43% were first time mothers and 53% were under 30 years.  Education levels were fairly evenly split with 44% having a Year 12 education or less. Pre-test questionnaires showed only 10% of participants knew correct burn first aid, and 22% reported undertaking first aid training in the past 12 months. 33% identified hot beverage scalds as the leading cause of childhood burns, 43% identified children under two years as most at risk.

This intervention will conclude in July 2016 with a post-test questionnaire for all participants. To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate an app-based delivery of injury prevention messages, and the first study to test the efficacy of gamification techniques in an injury prevention intervention.

Key Words

Burn prevention, Hot beverage scalds, Paediatrics, Intervention,


Jacquii’s background is in nursing, journalism and marketing. She has combined these skills and knowledge with an interest in preventing disease and injury rather than treating them in the hospital setting, through health promotion, health education and injury prevention. Jacquii is in the final year of her PhD, which is focussed on preventing paediatric burns – specifically hot beverage scalds.

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