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The United States experience: Injury in America
  1. Susan Baker
  1. Center for Injury Research and Policy, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, 624 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Baker.

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Fifteen years ago the number of public health professionals with a major involvement in injury prevention was so small that our sessions at meetings of the American Public Health Association (APHA) attracted only a handful of members. To keep the room from looking empty, we had to coerce our spouses and friends into coming to our sessions. Today, however, we warn them that they may not find a seat, because our sessions at APHA are now standing room only.

What led to this dramatic shift? More than anything else, a movement we call “Injury in America”, named for a document of that title produced by the Committee on Trauma Research of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine.1

Our committee was formed in 1983 in response to the great disparity between the minimal funding for injury research and prevention and the enormous size of the injury problem:

  • Injuries were—and still are—the leading cause of death and disability in the US among children and young adults. Injuries are also a devastating problem for the elderly, whose injury mortality rates exceed those for any other age group.

  • Although the number of years of life lost prematurely to injury exceeded the number lost to cancer and heart disease combined, federal funding for injury research was only one 15th the funding for the latter two diseases.

Into this abysmal situation was thrust the Committee on Trauma Research: 16 physicians, engineers, and public health researchers, national leaders who received a mandate to document the magnitude of the injury problem, determine the most needed research, and recommend governmental action to improve our knowledge of and control of injuries.

Our report, Injury in America released in 1985, opened with the following …

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