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Research ‘with’ not ‘on’, yes, but with whom and how?
  1. Roderick J McClure
  1. School of Rural Medicine, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Roderick J McClure, School of Rural Medicine, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia; rmcclure{at}une.edu.au

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My starting point for this discussion is where we left the topic in an editorial 12 months ago; that is, the need for more ‘Public involvement in the production, dissemination and implementation of injury prevention research.’1 In this issue, Jennifer Woody Collins presents an informed critique of the challenges involved, and provides an elegant response.2 I commend her practical advice for researchers and practitioners to you for your consideration.

The case for coproduced research is no longer contentious.3 Both for reasons of equity and justice, and for improved translation of research to public benefit, the compelling argument for coproduced research has been made. It is now our responsibility as editors and authors to apply the principle of coproduction in a way that fits our context and achieves the principle’s ethical and practical goals. From January 2020 all authors submitting manuscripts to Injury Prevention will be asked to consider how they applied the principles of public involvement to the work they have undertaken.

No one is saying this will be an easy task. Critically important yes, but not easy. Let’s take a look at the nine manuscripts published in this issue on the topic of road safety, and explore the depth and breadth of the challenge.

Nesoff and colleagues4 examined the relationship between presence of alcohol outlets and risk of pedestrian injury in Baltimore City. The study used an innovative design, strong conceptual logic, a combination of administrative data sets, and sophisticated data management and secondary data analyses to address a novel and important question. The authors provided evidence of the role of alcohol outlets in pedestrian injury risk and highlighted the value of alcohol control policies (licensing, zoning and enforcement) as potential preventive interventions. Cobiac and colleagues5 asked whether raising alcohol taxes would be a cost-effective strategy for reducing the burden of alcohol-related road transport injuries in New Zealand. They answered this question using a simulation model that combined administrative data from multiple sources including New Zealand, UK and Australia, and disability weight estimates published elsewhere in the literature.

Poswayo and colleagues6 quantified the impact of a school-based road traffic injury prevention programme in urban sub-Saharan Africa. Household survey data before and after intervention were obtained for intervention and non-intervention schools using a quasiexperimental design, and analysis suggested a positive programme effect. Quistberg and colleagues7 undertook an evaluation of the impact of a third party’s photo enforcement on compliance with school zone speed limits. Harper and Palayew8 and Staples and Redelmeier9 used publicly available data from national agency in correlational analyses to infer relationships between cannabis use and fatal traffic crashes.

Thompson and colleagues10 demonstrated the validity of synthetic evidence from previous computational models by comparing these synthetic results with observed cyclist behaviour at an inner city cross-intersection in Melbourne, Australia. Kim and colleagues11 showed that bicycle helmets provided greater protective effect for older (compared with younger) adults based on surveillance data from eight emergency departments. Beck and colleagues,12 also addressing the problem of cycling injuries, undertook descriptive in-depth interviews in a prospective case series of 129 patients recruited from two hospitals in Melbourne, Australia.

This simple list of manuscripts covers the territory from theoretical considerations of synthetic data, through secondary analyses of combinations of multinational data sets and aggregated national data sets, down to in-depth interviews with injured individuals. Some of the research was purely descriptive, some related to risk factor analysis and some were interventions of localised intervention programmes. The focus of some of the work was on industry, some focused on individuals, much of the research related to policy-level interventions that have an impact both on industries and individuals. Yet in all of these cases, there were true citizens and a true public that were the subject (not object) of the work.

Our job as editors and authors is to take responsibility, right at the beginning, before the research questions are formulated. We must make sure we have those citizens and this public involved in the generation of the research questions, and the production, dissemination and implementation of research that is undertaken. It can be done. Jennifer Woody Collins’ special feature provides some direction.2 It is up to us to find a way to do it.

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Footnotes

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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