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This issue of Injury Prevention is scheduled for distribution at the 7th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion in Vienna. Barring the predictably unpredictable quirks of publishing, each delegate will have received a copy. Many can still recall the first conference in Sweden 15 or so years ago, and some will have attended each successive meeting. The total of attendees, past and present, may now be large enough to begin to try to assess how well these biennial pilgrimages meet their goals.
There is no way to judge with certainty the success of a conference. Much may depend on the weather (awful in Montreal, delightful in Melbourne) or on which of our old friends showed up. One criterion for success is that held by the organizers: a good balance sheet, which equates to the number of attendees. But bigger is not necessarily better. Balance may be more important—fewer attendees from more countries. For example, this conference may have attracted a higher-than-usual number from some European countries. Viewing the world through the undoubtedly distorted lens of an editor, my impression has been that much of Europe is a desert when it comes to injury prevention. If it proves true that many of the papers given in Vienna originated from those desert lands, this would be one positive score.
Still, total attendance may be an appropriate measure even if it is confounded by location, which, in turn, reflects cost considerations. Montreal is easier to reach than Delhi and who could resist Vienna except those with shallow pocketbooks. Apart from numbers and …