The case for collaboration


 

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Despite being the leading cause of death for children and adolescents from the age of one, a major cause of morbidity, disability and health service utilisation, and the single greatest inequality in health, injury prevention in the UK is hampered by a lack of evidence for effective interventions, and a lack of resources and infrastructure committed to addressing this issue.  The publication of Preventing Accidental Injury priorities for action, the report of the Accidental Injury Task Force by the Department of Health, provided a basis for the implementation of successful injury prevention programmes.

Research into injury prevention has also been hampered by issues such as

  • the variety of government departments and agencies with partial and overlapping remits for prevention

  • the lack of importance given to the area by the major health research funding agencies

  • the fragmentation of expertise by geography and discipline.

Injury prevention is a multi-disciplinary issue.

Despite these obstacles there is considerable expertise in injury prevention research in the UK. At the 6th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Control held in Montreal in May 2002, 4.5% of research papers (55/1218) were submitted by UK researchers. On a per capita basis injury prevention research is much stronger in the US, Canada and Australia.  These countries have a much stronger expressed commitment to injury prevention and have set up national prevention and research organisations to deliver on injury prevention. The Canadian Collaborating Centres for Injury Prevention provides an example of such a network.

Preventing Accidental Injury priorities for action has a variety of sections detailing gaps in our knowledge and has a section on the research infrastructure to fill these gaps.  Among the recommendations made is for government to build up multi-disciplinary units and sustainable collaborations and networks to carry out the necessary research. Such centres, collaborations and networks would be instrumental in:

  • the development of the R&D workforce capacity to ensure a sufficient supply of senior researchers able to grapple with complex methods, work across boundaries and ensure difficult R&D designs are carried out on the ground;

  • fostering better understanding among researchers in different disciplines of the variety of valid methodological approaches to answering research questions;

  • providing mechanisms for breaking down barriers to effective working by encouraging the building of multi-disciplinary teams who can share and develop research methods as well as share data and research findings.

Additionally, there is a general R&D role to provide:

  • training and guidance to the research community on how to disseminate its research so it can be translated into practice. This can be achieved through meetings, virtual networks, dedicated data bases of ongoing projects, and journals which recognise accidental injury as a total concept;

  • training to local professional people in research methods and in preparing research proposals. Setting up a research network to co-ordinate community and local activities in injury prevention would facilitate developing strategies for working together and mapping the injury problem across the community.

One of the ambitions of the group was to host a UK injury prevention conference in the years between the biannual World Conferences on Injury Prevention and Control.  To date, there have been such conferences, one in Bristol and another in Cardiff.  And in 2010, the UK hosted hosted Safety 2010, the principal world conference on injury prevention and control, with a number of the Miskin group members being actively involved in its organisation.

Revision date: 13 November 2013

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