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Injury control (or injury prevention and safety promotion, as many prefer) is a very young scientific discipline. Many constructs and related terminologies in this field are still evolving, and often actually blurred. To settle a common working academic nomenclature within it has proved a formidable if not utopian undertaking, given both the broad array of professional disciplines involved and the fact that mostly all preventive actions entail a dynamic interplay with communities worldwide. Thus, many common language words have been unevenly terminologised, so that terms have become dubious and sometimes contentious within the injury field and beyond.1–5
As to the particular role of the word ‘accident’ within the injury field lexicon, we observed 50 years that separated us from Bill Haddon's seminal works on what he called the phenomena of trauma. Dr Haddon urged those who would make scientific contributions in the injury field to avoid approaches which translated the traditional, prescientific wisdom into scientific terms and jargon.6 However, we have been witnessing a great deal of debate between those who sustain that the modern science of injury control can chase away the hodgepodge term, on the grounds of its alleged—albeit not based on empirical evidence—notions of randomness and unpreventability undermining both scientific clarity and preventive efforts, and those who argue that risk control ultimately depends on perceptions and attitudes of common people, and thus their conception of accident must always be taken into account. That is, an ongoing dispute between (if you may call them so) …
Contributors DB and HX wrote a joint commentary and made the bibliographic review.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.