University of Pittsburgh Researcher Finds Psychological and Educational Services Reduce Children's Involvement With Fire

Apr 25, 2001, 01:00 ET from University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

    PITTSBURGH, April 25 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ -- New research
 from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that structured treatments designed
 specifically to intervene with children who set fires are more effective in
 the long term than a brief service in which a firefighter visits the child's
 home, a commonly used intervention for child fire setters.
     Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and fire safety education (FSE) were
 found to significantly curtail firesetting and matchplay behaviors up to a
 year after intervention.  More fires were set by children who received a home
 visit by a firefighter (HVF) by this one-year follow-up period.
     Results of the study were published in the March 2001 issue of the Journal
 of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
     "Our results show that children who set fires are less likely to exhibit
 either firesetting or matchplay by 12-month follow-up if they receive CBT or
 FSE, rather than HVF," said David J. Kolko, Ph.D., associate professor of
 child psychiatry, psychology and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh
 School of Medicine.  "Our research shows that using these two alternative
 approaches can reduce the number of repeat occurrences of these behaviors."
     Dr. Kolko cautioned that because children set fires for different reasons,
 including curiosity and behavior problems, researchers need to determine how
 best to apply each intervention -- for example, CBT may work better for kids
 with behavioral problems and FSE may work better for children who are just
 curious about fire.  Those interventions would then need to be refined to
 achieve the best results.
     For the study, Dr. Kolko assessed a total of 70 children who had set a
 recent fire.  Of the 54 children who entered the study, 38 were assigned to
 receive either CBT or FSE and 16 received HVF.  At the conclusion of the
 intervention period, all three interventions were associated with a marked
 decrease in fire-related activities.
     Initially, out of 13 children who received HVF, four (28.6 percent) had
 set another fire by the time they had completed the intervention.  Only three
 out of 17 children receiving CBT (17.6 percent) and two out of 13 who received
 FSE (14.3 percent) repeated the behavior.
     During a follow-up assessment one year later, children who received CBT or
 FSE had been less involved with fire and had fewer other problems related to
 fire than children who received HVF only.  According to Dr. Kolko, only
 15.4 percent of children in the study who received FSE and 23.5 percent of
 children treated with CBT had set fires in the 12 months after treatment,
 whereas 50 percent of the children who received HVF had set another fire.
     CBT and FSE were also better at reducing other activities associated with
 firesetting, such as playing with matches and being seen with matches or
 lighters.  Whereas 57 percent of the children in a group being counseled with
 HVF for playing with matches repeated within a year, 35 percent of the CBT
 group and only 7 percent of FSE group did.  Significantly, while all three
 types of interventions showed at least some decrease in the number of children
 seen with matches or a lighter a year after treatment, none of the 12 children
 in the CBT group was seen with them.
     "In light of this study, it is our hope that CBT and FSE can become a more
 integral part of the standard services available for child firesetters," said
 Dr. Kolko.  "These results also give us a base upon which to expand our
 research to find out what types of alterations can be made to CBT and FSE to
 make those interventions more effective."
     Statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association indicate that
 children playing with fire were responsible for more than 98,000 fires in the
 United States that cost 408 civilian deaths, 3,130 injuries and more than
 $300.7 million in direct property damages in one year (1994).  Research
 conducted by Dr. Kolko over the past 15 years shows that, in some cases, more
 than half of all child firesetters will repeat the activity over a two-year
 period.
     Some form of home visit from a fighter, according to Dr. Kolko, is a
 common method of helping child firesetters and was never meant to be a long-
 term service.  It usually involves a firefighter going to the home of a child
 who has set a fire, reviewing with the child and parents some ways to avoid
 using fire, and handing out some educational materials.  Even though this
 brief home visit may not have been as effective as the other two, more
 intensive interventions, it was associated with a significant reduction in the
 number of fires that were set by those children and may be a cost-effective
 alternative service.
     Cognitive-behavioral therapy for child firesetters involves the
 application of psychological strategies to enhance the child's self-control,
 assertion, and problem-solving and parents' use of effective discipline and
 communication, whereas fire safety education involves training in several fire
 safety principles and prevention activities.
 
     CONTACT:  Craig Dunhoff, dunhoffcc@msx.upmc.edu, or Lisa Rossi,
 RossiL@msx.upmc.edu, 412-624-2607, or fax, 412-624-3184, both of UPMC.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X85759721
 
 

SOURCE University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
    PITTSBURGH, April 25 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ -- New research
 from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that structured treatments designed
 specifically to intervene with children who set fires are more effective in
 the long term than a brief service in which a firefighter visits the child's
 home, a commonly used intervention for child fire setters.
     Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and fire safety education (FSE) were
 found to significantly curtail firesetting and matchplay behaviors up to a
 year after intervention.  More fires were set by children who received a home
 visit by a firefighter (HVF) by this one-year follow-up period.
     Results of the study were published in the March 2001 issue of the Journal
 of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
     "Our results show that children who set fires are less likely to exhibit
 either firesetting or matchplay by 12-month follow-up if they receive CBT or
 FSE, rather than HVF," said David J. Kolko, Ph.D., associate professor of
 child psychiatry, psychology and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh
 School of Medicine.  "Our research shows that using these two alternative
 approaches can reduce the number of repeat occurrences of these behaviors."
     Dr. Kolko cautioned that because children set fires for different reasons,
 including curiosity and behavior problems, researchers need to determine how
 best to apply each intervention -- for example, CBT may work better for kids
 with behavioral problems and FSE may work better for children who are just
 curious about fire.  Those interventions would then need to be refined to
 achieve the best results.
     For the study, Dr. Kolko assessed a total of 70 children who had set a
 recent fire.  Of the 54 children who entered the study, 38 were assigned to
 receive either CBT or FSE and 16 received HVF.  At the conclusion of the
 intervention period, all three interventions were associated with a marked
 decrease in fire-related activities.
     Initially, out of 13 children who received HVF, four (28.6 percent) had
 set another fire by the time they had completed the intervention.  Only three
 out of 17 children receiving CBT (17.6 percent) and two out of 13 who received
 FSE (14.3 percent) repeated the behavior.
     During a follow-up assessment one year later, children who received CBT or
 FSE had been less involved with fire and had fewer other problems related to
 fire than children who received HVF only.  According to Dr. Kolko, only
 15.4 percent of children in the study who received FSE and 23.5 percent of
 children treated with CBT had set fires in the 12 months after treatment,
 whereas 50 percent of the children who received HVF had set another fire.
     CBT and FSE were also better at reducing other activities associated with
 firesetting, such as playing with matches and being seen with matches or
 lighters.  Whereas 57 percent of the children in a group being counseled with
 HVF for playing with matches repeated within a year, 35 percent of the CBT
 group and only 7 percent of FSE group did.  Significantly, while all three
 types of interventions showed at least some decrease in the number of children
 seen with matches or a lighter a year after treatment, none of the 12 children
 in the CBT group was seen with them.
     "In light of this study, it is our hope that CBT and FSE can become a more
 integral part of the standard services available for child firesetters," said
 Dr. Kolko.  "These results also give us a base upon which to expand our
 research to find out what types of alterations can be made to CBT and FSE to
 make those interventions more effective."
     Statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association indicate that
 children playing with fire were responsible for more than 98,000 fires in the
 United States that cost 408 civilian deaths, 3,130 injuries and more than
 $300.7 million in direct property damages in one year (1994).  Research
 conducted by Dr. Kolko over the past 15 years shows that, in some cases, more
 than half of all child firesetters will repeat the activity over a two-year
 period.
     Some form of home visit from a fighter, according to Dr. Kolko, is a
 common method of helping child firesetters and was never meant to be a long-
 term service.  It usually involves a firefighter going to the home of a child
 who has set a fire, reviewing with the child and parents some ways to avoid
 using fire, and handing out some educational materials.  Even though this
 brief home visit may not have been as effective as the other two, more
 intensive interventions, it was associated with a significant reduction in the
 number of fires that were set by those children and may be a cost-effective
 alternative service.
     Cognitive-behavioral therapy for child firesetters involves the
 application of psychological strategies to enhance the child's self-control,
 assertion, and problem-solving and parents' use of effective discipline and
 communication, whereas fire safety education involves training in several fire
 safety principles and prevention activities.
 
     CONTACT:  Craig Dunhoff, dunhoffcc@msx.upmc.edu, or Lisa Rossi,
 RossiL@msx.upmc.edu, 412-624-2607, or fax, 412-624-3184, both of UPMC.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X85759721
 
 SOURCE  University of Pittsburgh Medical Center