20 September 2010

Graphic television commercials and newspaper ads have been used to reduce the incidence of young males being burned by throwing petrol on campfires, bonfires and outdoor BBQs.

Dr John Harrison and Bruce Redman, from UQ’s School of Journalism and Communication, worked with burns surgeon and chief investigator Dr Michael Muller and a team from UQ’s School of Medicine's Burns, Trauma and Critical Care Research Centre to develop the campaign.

"Don’t be a flamin' fool", a two-week burns prevention campaign, has been trialled in regional Queensland as part of a study to evaluate the effectiveness of a targeted burn prevention message.

Supported by data from an 11-year study of patients admitted to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital with new burn injuries, the development of the campaign included interviews with doctors, burns victims and their families.

"People throw petrol on a fire to get it going, and they get burned. Our TV commercials were designed to show the risks associated with doing this. One of our commercials was so graphic it was restricted to PG viewing times," Dr Harrison said.

Mr Redman has been working with the Queensland Fire and Rescue Academy at Whyte Island to film fires accelerated by petrol.

"We now know how little fuel it takes to get a big bang. And big bangs burn people," Mr Redman said.

This study observed that a media prevention message had a significant impact on burn safety knowledge. In follow-up telephone interviews, 83 percent of respondents who had seen the "flamin' fool" campaign thought it was effective in getting its message across.

Dr Muller was supported as Chief Investigator of this project by the Centre for Burns, Trauma and Critical Care Research at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

The project is funded by a competitive research grant from Queensland Health.

Media: Beth Hensler, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (3365 8820 or b.hensler@uq.edu.au).