• Open Access

Handbook of Injury and Violence Prevention

Edited by Lynda SDoll, SandraEBonzo, David ASleet and James A Mercy . Published by Springer Science + Business Media , New York , 2007 . Hardback , 576 pages . ISBN 0387259244 . RRP $ US99.00 .

Reviewed by Pam Albany

NSW Health Department

I'm not normally a reader of introductions, but I discovered the introduction to this new book contained an important statement. It quotes the National Academy of Sciences/National Research thus: “Injury has been described, until recently, as the “neglected disease” because it occurs in such great numbers but has been tacitly accepted as a normal occurrence of living in a modern society”. The introduction then suggests that the use of a public health approach, similar to that used for other diseases, would lead to a significant reduction in injury. Thus the editors of this recently published book set out a case for a more intelligent management of one of the most severe burdens on the health system and on the economics of society.

The Handbook of Injury and Violence Prevention begins with an introduction to the epidemiology and costs of injury and violence and interventions to control them (Part I). This is the first book to comprehensively review ‘what works’ in injury and violence prevention (evidence-based practice) (see Part II: Effective and Promising Interventions), but also goes on to describe interventions from the field (practice-based evidence) (see Part IV: Interventions from the Field). More than fifty experts present the current landscape of intervention methods – from risk reduction to changing social norms – as they address some of the most prevalent forms of injury and violence and gaps in the field.

This new book contains a splendid summary of the evidence for the prevention of the full range of common injury types, from fall injuries among children to elder maltreatment, and everything in between. There are seven chapters on unintentional injuries, five chapters on violence, and an entire section (Part III) containing seven chapters on cross cutting issues such as alcohol and injury, reducing the misuse of firearms, parenting and supervision, and building resilience to mass trauma events. This chapter also addresses the importance of changing built and social environments to render them less risky for people to live and work in. Part V, (Dissemination and Adoption of effective interventions and policies) contains two excellent approaches to the ‘translation process’, that is making sure interventions are widely implemented and adopted. These last parts of the Handbook, Part IV (Interventions from the Field) and V (Dissemination and Adoption), I found the most interesting and potentially useful. Until now, most books summarising evidence for injury prevention focus on evidence, but little on how you put this evidence into practice. As someone in the workplace safety once said, “we know what to do, we just don't know how to get it done”.

So chapters headed as: Developing and Implementing Communication Messages, Involving the community in injury prevention, Cultural appropriateness in interventions for racial and ethnic minorities, and Evaluating fidelity and effectiveness of intervention; all took my interest. I couldn't find a lot specific strategies such as how to succeed with intersect oral negotiations, nor a great deal about advocacy as a strategy, but the final chapter Dissemination, Implementation and Widespread Use of Injury Prevention Interventions was a classic Injury Prevention 101 primer, and the first I'm aware of on that subject.

Finally four useful Appendices are included: Appendix 1 on Key injury and violence prevention resources (books, websites, organisations), Appendix 2 (key evaluation resources and publication), Appendix 3 (annotating over 50 key injury and violence data resources, almost all US based), and Appendix 4, (a useful, up-to-date (as of 2007) list of key injury and violence web sites and resources for federal agencies, journals, associations, and research). Of course, the appendices reflect US resources primarily, but yet many in the field may not be aware they exist.

One drawback is that the Handbook does not have a chapter specifically addressing workplace injuries, or risk management strategies to control them. Since the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, where all the editors are affiliated, has direct responsibility for only non-occupational injury prevention. Perhaps the editors felt the topic of workplace injuries belonged elsewhere in the US Government. In fact it does, at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, also at the CDC.

While focused on the US in terms of the discussions about the burden of injury and utilising US data, the summary of evidence on each topical area is the most recent and well-researched summary of the field currently available, and its contents reflect evidence of effectiveness from mostly developed countries. However, the list of contributors is international, including several authors from various parts of Australia and Canada, and reflects the most well informed scientists and practitioners in the field today. It will be a most useful handbook for all of us who from time to time need a reference guide, an updated summary of evidence, and new ideas about putting effective interventions to use at the organisational and community level. It makes a very useful addition to any scholarly bookshelf.