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Edited by FP Rivara, P Cummings, TD Koepsell, DC Grossman, and RV Maier. (Pp 304; £65 hardback.) Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-521-661528.
Fred Rivara, the principal editor of this book, ends the introductory chapter by noting that injury, at the beginning of the 21st century, continues to cause enormous death and disability worldwide. Although some progress in controlling the toll of injury has been made in the last 50 years, Rivara observes that “further reduction in injury will depend on increasingly more sophisticated research. It is our hope that this volume will help to stimulate such efforts”. I certainly agree with his assessment.
To that end, 30 well known injury researchers collaborated on 20 chapters that cover a wide range of issues related to research and evaluation in the field of injury. Injury Control spans issues of measurement of injury events and consequences, the management of injury data, various approaches to designing and carrying out injury related research—from descriptive and analytical epidemiological studies to intervention trials, economic analyses, assessments and improvements in clinical care, and ethical issues. The volume appears to be pegged to scientists and practitioners in the “middle”, somewhere between novices and experts. That's fine, since most injury books to date have been pegged to the most introductory level.
The chapters are generally short, and the authors have followed similar formats. The advantage of this approach is that the chapters have a similar structure. The disadvantage is that the chapters, in some cases, may be thin on detailed information or lack pizzazz. In many cases, excellent examples are drawn from the literature to demonstrate the methodological points. This volume is a competent, authoritative review of the state of injury research in 2001. It could serve admirably as the text for an injury epidemiology research course in a school of public health.
While Injury Control stands alone as an excellent contribution to research in the field, it would benefit from two additions. First, the volume needs to be accompanied by a “reader”. That is, each chapter needs a set of articles, or substantial excerpts from research articles, that demonstrate the important methodological points, whether specific uses of methods, or strengths of approaches, or limitations and biases of certain approaches. Second, there needs to be a set of commentaries that challenge the methodologists in our field to think about our “future” research needs. What are the problems that can't be solved using the methods documented in this volume? How will these new methods emerge? Perhaps Injury Prevention would publish such a discussion.
Finally, in the first chapter of Injury Control, Rivara reminds the reader of the volume by Haddon, Suchman and Klein, Accident Research: Methods and Approaches, published by the Association for Crippled Children in 1964. Many of us found that book in the 1970s when we began working in the injury field. It filled us with excitement and enthusiasm for this new field. Not only did it document the state of the science and art of that day, it challenged us to address new and important research agendas. After finishing Injury Control, go back to the library and get out Accident Research!