Chapter 4.

A systematic approach to injury control and violence prevention

By Carol Runyan, MPH, Ph.D.


"Injury control demands a systems approach because of the very nature of the multiple, concurrent actions that must be taken together by individuals and agencies."

- Injury Prevention: Meeting the Challenge

Successful injury prevention programs require change on the part of individuals, agencies, and environments. Effecting this type of change involves the long-term coordination and collaboration of groups. In this chapter, we will lay out a systematic approach for increasing the effectiveness of injury prevention efforts.

Now that you have a sense of just how big the injury problem is in this country, the rest of the course will focus on how to do something about it. This chapter will outline a systematic, step-by-step approach to injury prevention, and the following chapters will provide more detail on each of the components of this approach.

As you'll continue to hear throughout this course, actions taken to prevent injuries need to involve people with a wide variety of backgrounds from a wide range of organizations. Drawing upon this type of diversity can bring considerable skill and expertise to bear on the problem at hand. By involving the people who make products and laws, as well as the people who make decisions for themselves and for their families, our injury prevention efforts can achieve more efficient and effective results.

The steps of a systematic approach to injury control and violence prevention

The following diagram lists the violence prevention and injury control steps that we are going to cover in this course.


The first step towards figuring out what to do about an injury problem in your community is to learn as much as you can about the problem. Only after you have done this can you move on to identify potential intervention strategies, choose a strategy, develop an intervention plan, implement it, and, finally, evaluate your intervention to determine what changes you can make to improve it for future use. The steps are connected with arrows in a circular fashion to indicate that once you have completed the cycle, you can start over again, either by tackling the same problem in new ways, or by addressing new problems or the needs of new population groups.

Gathering and analyzing information to identify a potential injury problem and target population

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The best way to start developing solutions to injury problems is by gathering information about the problem and analyzing it to determine who is affected, by what, where they are affected, why they are affected and when they are affected. In short, you need to learn about what makes the problem a problem in your community, and to identify ways to work towards a solution that fits with the people you are working with. If, for example, there are a lot of head injuries in your community, you'll need to know whether they are the result of bicycle injuries, car crashes, people falling at construction sites or any of a broad range of other possible causes. Only once you have this kind of information can you decide if you need solutions like bicycle helmet ordinances, stronger enforcement of OSHA regulations, or violence prevention efforts.

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You also should consider taking the time to learn some more about your community itself. By finding out what resources already are available to help you solve the problem and what barriers exist in the community you can help to generate more effective and efficient solutions. Even if you think that you know your community well, chances are that there are some opportunities for cooperative planning and action of which you are not yet aware. By constantly working to develop a better understanding of your community, you can tap into some extremely valuable resources for injury prevention. Examples of resources are provided in the Appendix.

The next chapter will provide a more detailed description of how we can gather and analyze information to develop solutions to injury problems.

Identifying and choosing potential intervention strategies

Once we are sure that we understand the nature of the injury problem, we can begin to identify and select strategies for prevention. In chapter six, we will explore a number of community-based prevention tactics, and will consider how the selection of appropriate strategies is dependent on a good understanding of who or what you want to change, and of how you can make that change happen. We will also discuss methods for making decisions about which prevention strategies to employ.

Developing, implementing, and evaluating an intervention plan

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In chapter seven, we will address the final three steps of our systematic approach: developing an action plan, implementing it, and, finally, evaluating it. This chapter will place a special emphasis on the importance of having enthusiastic and knowledgeable collaborators to get a successful intervention off the ground, and on the importance of keeping track of and constantly evaluating your activities to keep it there. Although evaluation often gets overlooked when budgets are tight, it is an extremely important part of any intervention. After all, if we cannot demonstrate that our prevention strategy was effective, how do we know that all of our efforts were worthwhile in the first place?

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Next: Chapter 5. Using Data to Identify and Select and Injury Problem


Table of Contents Q&A Workbook Resources Exit

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