Statement of purpose The Safe Communities (SC) model is a grassroots initiative that promotes coalition building and encourages community participation in injury and violence prevention programs. The SC network includes over 300 sites in 29 countries. There are 24 SC sites in the US, most of which have been accredited in the last six years. The current study was conducted to understand the potential impact of SC accreditation on injuries in their communities.
Methods Inpatient injury data from 1999 to 2011 was obtained for three Safe Communities located in the Chicago metropolitan area. For one of the communities, joinpoint regression was applied to observe changes in monthly injury counts and injury rates during the observation period. The impact of SC accreditation on injuries was examined using Poisson random-intercept regression to compare the three SC sites combined and three equivalent control sites.
Results Joinpoint regression results indicate that a ten-year increase in injuries and injury rates was followed by a two-year decline in the trend, and the trend reversal occurred while the community was pursuing the SC accreditation. A total of 3,241 injury hospitalizations were recorded during the entire study period (average = 23 cases/month). We estimate that 290 injury hospitalizations may have been prevented during the two-year decline, which translates into cost savings of $14.2 million. Furthermore, there was a statistically significant decline in injury counts across the three Safe Communities post accreditation without comparison sites (p = 0.019) and with comparison sites (p = 0.005).
Conclusions Our work suggests that the SC model, whose key feature is building partnerships among community stakeholders, may be a promising approach to injury prevention.
Significance and contribution This is the first US-based investigation considering the impact of SC accreditation on injury-related outcomes at the community level. Further research is warranted to replicate these findings in other communities.
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