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Harstad injury prevention study: prevention of burns in young children by community based intervention
  1. Børge Ytterstad1,
  2. Gordon S Smith2,
  3. Carolyn A Coggan3
  1. 1Surgical Department, Harstad Hospital, 9400 Harstad, Norway
  2. 2Johns Hopkins University Centre for Injury Research and Policy, Baltimore, USA
  3. 3Injury Prevention Research Centre, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Ytterstad
 (e-mail: borgey{at}


Objective—To describe the long term effectiveness of a community based program targeting prevention of burns in young children.


Setting—The Norwegian city of Harstad (main intervention), six surrounding municipalities (intervention diffusion), and Trondheim (reference).

Participants—Children under age 5 years in the three study populations.

Methods—Outpatient and inpatient hospital data were coded according to the Nordic system, and collected as part of a national injury surveillance system. Burn data collection started in May 1985. The first 19.5 months of the study provided baseline data, while the last 10 years involved community based intervention, using a mix of passive and active interventions.

Results—The mean burn injury rate decreased by 51.5% after the implementation of the intervention in Harstad (p<0.05) and by 40.1% in the six municipalities (not significant). Rates in the reference city, Trondheim, increased 18.1% (not significant). In Harstad and the six surrounding municipalities there was a considerable reduction in hospital admissions, operations, and bed days. Interventions with passive strategies were more effective, stove and tap water burns being eliminated in the last four years, while active strategies were less effective.

Conclusions—A program targeting burns in children can be effective and sustainable. Local injury data provided the stimulus for community action.

  • burns
  • Harstad injury prevention study
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