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Rethinking the public health model for injury prevention
  1. Rebecca J Mitchell,
  2. Tayhla Ryder
  1. Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rebecca J Mitchell, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia; r.mitchell{at}

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How governments prioritise injury prevention initiatives can be influenced by a range of information sources including health statistics, media attention and stakeholder lobbying efforts. The public health model has been used to guide injury prevention efforts for over two decades, yet this model fails to recognise the impact of contextual features and advocacy efforts in translating injury prevention research into policy, programmes and practice. Here, a reconceptualisation of the public health model for injury prevention is offered to meet this need.

Public health approach to injury prevention

The public health model is the most common approach adopted to guide injury prevention efforts worldwide.1 In fact, the principles of the model have been promoted by the WHO as an approach to understand the causes of violence and as a model to address violence in the community.2 The public health model provides a step-by-step approach to prevention: injury data are examined to establish the extent of the injury problem, both injury risk and protective factors are identified along with effective injury prevention strategies, and successful prevention measures are implemented and evaluated. The model’s focus is on demonstrating the need for, and evidence of the impact of, injury prevention efforts. However, high-quality evidence alone is not enough to incite the development or modification of injury prevention policy.3

The public health model has previously been criticised for assuming that evidence-based interventions will be adopted in practice and for not considering how research findings are disseminated and move into practice in the ‘real-word’,4 5 such as through adoption of prevention support functions like building capacity of workers in implementing interventions.4 In addition, there is no scope to take into account advocacy efforts or contextual features, such as resource availability or political will, that may have an impact on the implementation of injury prevention strategies.

Context for injury prevention

While the …

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  • Contributors RJM developed the presented idea and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. RJM designed the figure with input from TR. RJM and TR wrote the final version of the manuscript. All authors gave approval of the manuscript submitted.

  • Funding RJM was partly supported by a career fellowship from the NSW Ministry of Health under the NSW Health Early-Mid Career Fellowships Scheme.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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