Adolescent balloon analog risk task and behaviors that influence risk of motor vehicle crash injury

Federico E. Vaca, Jessica M. Walthall, Sheryl Ryan, Alison Moriarty-Daley, Antonio Riera, Michael J. Crowley, Linda C. Mayes

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Risk-taking propensity is a pivotal facet of motor vehicle crash involvement and subsequent traumatic injury in adolescents. Clinical encounters are important opportunities to identify teens with high risk-taking propensity who may later experience serious injury. Our objective was to compare self-reports of health risk behavior with performance on the Balloon Analog Risk Task (BART), a validated metric of risk-taking propensity, in adolescents during a clinical encounter. 100 adolescent patients from a hospital emergency department and adolescent health clinic completed a computer-based survey of self-reported risk behaviors including substance use behaviors and behaviors that influence crash involvement. They then completed the BART, a validated laboratory-based risk task in which participants earn points by pumping up a computer-generated balloon with greater pumps leading to increased chance of balloon explosion. 20 trials were undertaken. Mean number of pumps on the BART showed a correlation of .243 (p=.015) with self-reported driver/passenger behaviors and attitudes towards driving that influence risk of crash injury. Regression analyses showed that self-reports of substance use and mean number of pumps on the BART uniquely predict self-reports of behaviors influencing the risk of crash injury. The BART is a promising correlate of real-world risk-taking behavior related to traffic safety. It remains a valid predictor of behaviors influencing risk of crash injury when using just 10 trials, suggesting its utility as a quick and effective screening measure for use in busy clinical environments. This tool may be an important link to prevention interventions for those most at-risk for future motor vehicle crash involvement and injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-87
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Advances in Automotive Medicine
StatePublished - Nov 27 2013
Event57th Annual Scientific Conference of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine - Quebec City, QC, Canada
Duration: Sep 23 2013Sep 25 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Medicine(all)


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