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Should-be readers: reaching the unconverted
  1. I B Pless, Editor

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    Over the past year I have given several lectures that began with reflections on whether I was preaching to the converted or to the choir. As I pointed out, the choir in many churches may include some who are simply good singers but not necessarily members of the same faith as the congregation. They may even be skeptics or agnostics. Talking about injury prevention to audiences who all believe in the message, is easy; far more daunting is trying to reach those who are not in the least convinced that injury prevention is a serious issue.

    The same situation applies to readers of this journal. Most are, to use a related metaphor, converts. In fact, I believe most readers are fervent zealots, doing all they possibly can to get the message to all who will listen—that this is a serious and tragic problem because the pain and suffering associated with an injury is so often needless. The prevention of injuries is also relatively easy compared with the prevention of most other conditions. The converts must continue to change how others view the injury epidemic.

    There are far too many others, however, who should be reading this journal who do not. Some are colleagues with similar backgrounds to current readers who, for one reason or another, have not yet discovered the journal. For them, a simple prod should do the trick.

    Much more challenging are those in other disciplines whom we have failed to reach or failed to convert. During the past year, the board has worked hard to get our message to the former. The latter remain to be convinced that Injury Prevention has much to offer.

    It is, of course, embarrassing for an editor to be touting his own publication. Nevertheless, for information of the kind the journal provides to serve its purpose, it must be as widely read as possible. We must continue to reach out to these “would-be” readers. They come in many guises.

    Of special importance are front line workers who are not researchers and who may be intimidated by some of the scientific elements found in original articles. It is so important that the bridge between researchers and prevention practitioners be crossed, that I view this as the most formidable of the challenges I face as an editor. To this end, I try hard to ensure that jargon is minimized and insist that most papers conclude with a section headed “implications for prevention”. Unfortunately, it is evident that more needs to be done. In the future I intend to offer a personal interpretation of some of the more important findings that bear on prevention practise or policy.

    There are also many others who should be regular readers—that is, subscribers. In no particular order they include engineers, environmental designers, urban planners, surgeons, public health workers, and, of course, policy makers. Similarly, those dedicated to violence prevention should find much of interest in the pages of this journal. Many of these groups have their own journals, but I urge that they move beyond the often narrow confines of their disciplines to include this interdisciplinary publication whose main focus is prevention.

    Surgeons, especially trauma surgeons and those who specialize in emergency medicine, come closest to the horrors of injuries. Few fail to accept that most damage to tissues need not have happened. It is not surprising that many of the leaders in injury prevention are surgeons who have seen this light. They include David Bass in South Africa, Marty Eichelberger and David Wesson in the US, Louis Francescutti and Rob Conn in Canada, David Yates in the UK, and many others. I assume most of these and their colleagues regularly read excellent journals like Trauma or Injury—largely dedicated to the repair of wounds—but not to their prevention. More surgeons should be reading Injury Prevention.

    The third group of should-be readers are those in public health. It is inconceivable that anyone working in this discipline would not accept the importance of injuries in this context. Yet, many public health officers are not subscribers and thus are unable to convey to their staff the most recent developments with respect to both risks and preventive measures.

    Finally, although it may seem far fetched to some, it seems reasonable to suggest that government departments involved in any way with injury prevention should have this journal in their libraries.