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Dannenberg Legislation Study Evaluation Essay

Dannenberg et al., (1993) ‘Bicycle helmet laws and educational campaigns: an evaluation of strategies to increase children’s helmet use’, American Journal of Public Health 83 (5), 667–74)


This is the second study we will be looking at from the Methods of Health Promotion section of ‘Healthy Living’, as part of your OCR A2 Health and Clinical Psychology course. It is further categorised into ‘Legislation


Legislation is varies from country to country and this can have an effect upon the health of it’s citizens.

Dannenburg et al (1993) – studied legislation in Maryland in the United States to see how the legislation to compel young cyclists to wear helmets affected health behaviour.


To review the impact of the passing of a law requiring cycle helmet wearing in children.

Method and Design

A Quasi-experiment. As the experimenter could not have controlled the law, the experiment had to be quasi, the independent variable was naturally occurring.

The experiment was conducted when laws were passed in Howard County, Maryland, USA requiring children under 16 to wear approved safety helmets when riding bicycles.

The design of the study was an independent design.


Children from 47 schools in Howard County, and two control groups from Montgomery County and Baltimore County (all of which were in Maryland, USA). They were in the 4th, 7th and 9th grades and were aged between 10-15 years old.

In the control group of Montgomery County there was already a campaign to promote bicycle safety.

In all 7322 children were sent questionnaires, around 3000 questionnaires were returned.


Questionnaires containing four-point likert scales were sent and completed by the children, but parents were asked to help the child complete the questionnaires, so consent was gained.

Topics covered in the questionnaires included:

  • bicycle use
  • helmet ownership and use
  • awareness of law
  • sources of information about helmets
  • peer pressure.

Participants were asked about use one year previously and on their most recent bike ride. Howard county reported usage had increased from 11.4 to 37.5%, compared with 8.4 to 12.6% in Montgomery County and 6.7 to 11.1% in Baltimore County.

The younger the children, the more their bicycle helmet usage increased.

After the law was introduced Howard County had the highest rates of helmet adherence in the entire USA.


Passing legislation has more of an effect than educational campaigns alone, and educational campaigns are not necessarily at all in increasing health behaviours.

The self report method used here correlated with an observational study by Cote et al (1992), which found similar rates of cycle helmet usage.

Dannenburg et al  (1993) Evaluation

– The use of likert scales can be lacking in validity if they are not properly operationalised.

+ Useful the study is useful for increasing health behaviours in individuals, it may be better to combine passing laws with media campaigns.

– Quasi-experiments – lack control as the experimenter cannot manipulate the variables. However, this does lead to higher ethics.

– Reductionism – the experiment has not considered the wider causes for the adoption of health behaviours.

– Generalisability – as the sample considered of school children, we could argue that this sample is more suggestible than older populations.

– Replicability is low because to repeat this study one would have to wait for another similar law to be passed.

+ Concurrent validity – is shown due to Cote et al’s observational study, which also suggests that issues with self-reports may not have a risen with this study.


Dannenberg et al., (1993) ‘Bicycle helmet laws and educational campaigns: an evaluation of strategies to increase children’s helmet use’, American Journal of Public Health 83 (5), 667–74) 


Further Reading

OCR A2 Psychology Student Unit Guide New Edition: Unit G543 Health and Clinical Psychology (Student Unit Guides)

Psych Yogi’s Top Ten Psychology Revision Tips for the A* Student


Article Name

Dannenberg et al (1993) - Legislation


'Theories of Health Belief' section of 'Methods of Health Promotion' Revise OCR A2 Health & Clinical Psychology course. Further categorised into 'Legislation'


Psych Yogi


From 2006 onwards, the EU hygiene regulations were implemented in the hunted game food chain in the Netherlands, and national law was amended accordingly. This study evaluated the progress made in putting this new legislation to practice, and the method used was an interpretative qualitative assessment with stakeholders. Subjects for improvement were identified, and an international comparison was made to learn how some other European countries were dealing with these issues. Initial examination and declaration by a ‘trained person’ (TP) are required for all marketed hunted game in the Netherlands. A quarter of the Dutch hunters were TPs in 2013, having completed a specific training programme based on the legal requirements. The declaration may be filled in digitally for large game in some Dutch provinces, facilitating traceability. Based on the assessment, it appears that awareness of the TPs concerning proper cooling and hygienic handling of game for good quality game meat was significantly raised through the TP training, and that the decision to place game on the market is taken more consciously. Effort to comply with the regulation changes was found to be high for hunted game obtained from large hunting areas and/or destined for game-handling establishments. Conversely, it was low in local trade, in particular when small game or sales to restaurants were concerned, and this requires more attention. To further enhance game meat food safety, several stakeholders, especially in the local market, need more and clear information and feedback on legal requirements and on good practice for food safety. To further enhance self-responsibility, the Dutch hunter training and TP training must be adjusted. The assessment also identified a strong wish among stakeholders for refresher courses and accredited practical training opportunities. It would be a great step forward to develop these trainings through collaboration at European level.

Keywords: food safety, hygiene regulations, hunted game meat