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Research and practice in a multidimensional world: a commentary on the contribution of the third dimension of the Haddon matrix to injury prevention
  1. Bridie Scott-Parker1,
  2. J Morag MacKay2
  1. 1University of the Sunshine Coast Accident Research (USCAR), Faculty of Arts and Business (FAB), University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
  2. 2European Child Safety Alliance, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Bridie Scott-Parker, University of the Sunshine Coast Accident Research (USCAR), Faculty of Arts and Business (FAB), University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs, QLD 4556, Australia; bscottpa{at}

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Most people who have worked within or studied injury prevention have been introduced to the Haddon matrix,1 ,2 a tool to assist in understanding injury problems and identifying possible countermeasures. Potential targets of change are captured within the public health triangle (host–agent (social and physical)–environment) across three event phases referring to primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. Each matrix cell allows identification of possible interventions that would effect change, thus providing a structured way to identify potential prevention strategies. In 1998, Carol Runyan published the seminal paper “Using the Haddon matrix: introducing the third dimension” that expanded on the matrix and its utility by adding a decision-making dimension based on principles of policy analysis.3 This paper made an important contribution to the injury prevention field as it provided straightforward and useful guidance on how to apply and use an already familiar tool to better support evidence-based decision-making. Given the current challenges decision makers face in translating research into action, this framework remains relevant today.

Carol Runyan was introduced to the Haddon matrix in 1980 while working on her PhD at the University of North Carolina during an injury course led by Susan Baker, Leon Robertson and William Haddon as part of the Epidemiology Summer Session at the University of Minnesota. She was immediately struck by the elegant simplicity of the matrix as a tool to …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.