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Tom Christoffel and Susan Scavo Gallagher. (Pp 402; $US 50.00.) Aspen Publishers, Gaitherburg, Maryland, 1999. ISBN 0-8342-840-7.
Christoffel and Gallagher have written this new book for a very specific audience—practitioners of injury prevention, particularly those working in public health agencies at the state and local levels. The content and style draw on the enormous experience of the two authors as practitioners and scholars in the field of injury. The work updates and advances the approach taken by the National Committee on Injury Prevention and Control in its “blue book,” Injury Prevention: Meeting the Challenge (1989). The volume would be highly effective as an introductory text for teaching public health students in the classroom and for orienting new public health agency employees to their work in the field.
The greatest strength of Injury Prevention and Public Health is that it draws on the practical knowledge and experience of the authors. Thus the most effective section is part III, “Practical Knowledge, Skills and Strategies”, followed by part II, “Basic Concepts of Injury Prevention”. Throughout the chapters located in these two sections of the book, the authors identify agencies, processes, and experiences that are critical to the development and implementation of injury prevention activities of all types. Throughout these chapters they use specific examples of injury programs from both published literature, reports, and personal knowledge. They address barriers and obstacles to effective program implementation. They weigh alterative approaches to preventing injury. They cover a broad range of issues in the field, within the context of public health and add the depth of their personal knowledge and experience. The specific examples provided in text boxes throughout the work are excellent.
Each chapter is organized along that old pedagogic principle of “tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em; then tell 'em; and then tell 'em what you told 'em!” The appendices are excellent, providing a reference location to important, but often difficult to find, documents like the Year 2000 Objectives for the Nation and the proposed matrix for assigning E codes to injury deaths.
There are also some problems with Injury Prevention and Public Health. Part I, covering the magnitude, concepts, and epidemiology of intentional and unintentional injury is superficial and uneven in its treatment of the problem. Students and practitioners who are new to the field will need to consult another source to get a more solid grounding in the nature of the injury problem. The epidemiology chapter suffers from the problem of attempting to explain the major concepts of epidemiological methods, inadequately. The reporting of “successful” programs is spotty and often not convincing. The writing style of including long quotations from other sources becomes annoying.
Injury Prevention and Public Health defines and operationalizes an important part of the injury field while recognizing that there are other domains of the field in criminal justice, motor vehicle and highway safety, and other related fields. Christoffel and Gallagher provide a mandate, place, and a set of activities for public health practitioners to play their part in the broad societal effort toward improving the health and safety of populations. The injury field benefits from their knowledge and experience.
Another review of this book will appear in a later issue.