Safety behaviors of Montana licensed outfitters
Sobeck, Linda Sue.
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INTRODUCTION: Outdoor recreation in remote wilderness areas is becoming popular, with nearly one-quarter of all Americans taking an outdoor adventure vacation in 2004. Along with an increase in recreation, injuries related to outdoor recreation are on the rise, earning a priority on the Center for Disease Control Injury Research Agenda. BACKGROUND: In Montana, outdoor recreation frequently occurs in the wilderness and involves facilitation by licensed outfitters. Basic first aid is required of all licensed outfitters in Montana, though little is known about the actual safety behaviors of outfitters. PURPOSE: This study set out to explore factors that influence the safety behaviors of Montana licensed outfitters, specifically the association between safety behaviors and both remoteness and health beliefs. THEORETICAL CONTEXT: The Health Belief Model (HBM) was used as the contextual theory to understand how attitudes and beliefs interact to explain health behavior. The constructs of the HBM are perceived susceptibility, perceived seriousness, benefits, barriers and cues to action.METHODS: All 640 licensed outfitters in Montana were sent a questionnaire that assessed safety behaviors (actions taken prior to a trip, information provided, and items taken on a trip), remoteness and constructs of the HBM; a total of 248 questionnaires were included in the final analysis. RESULTS: The study found a moderate positive relationship between remoteness and the safety behaviors of actions taken prior to a trip (rho = .25, p<0.01), information provided (rho = .16, p<0.01), and items taken on a trip (rho = .17, p<0.01). This study also found a moderate positive relationship between cues to action and all safety behaviors of actions taken prior to a trip (rho = .18, p<0.01), information provided (rho = .31, p<0.01), and items taken on a trip (rho = .22, p<0.01).DISCUSSION: In Montana outfitters, high levels of safety behaviors were associated with greater distance between hunting or fishing sites to nearest emergency rooms, and cues to action. This suggests that past experience and possible risk of prolonged treatment time plays a part in preparation. Basic first aid may not be an appropriate choice for licensed outfitters, as the course traditionally does not focus on prevention, but rather focuses on early activation of emergency medical services and short-term treatment until medical help arrives. CONCLUSION: Using the information gathered from this study, a tailored message and tailored first aid course might better suit the needs of licensed outfitters in Montana. Rural Nurse Practitioners can take the lead in ensuring individual safety needs are met of clients heading to the wilderness, by facilitating wilderness-oriented first aid to licensed outfitters in Montana, by facilitating community education efforts and by advocating for policy and legislative change, if needed, to keep outfitters and outdoor enthusiasts safe.