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Reflections on mission and priorities of Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research (SAVIR) during my first 100 days as president
  1. Henry Xiang
  1. Center for Pediatric Trauma Research & Center for Injury Research and Policy, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Henry Xiang, Center for Pediatric Trauma Research & Center for Injury Research and Policy, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH 43205, USA; Henry.Xiang{at}nationwidechildrens.org

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It is an incredible honour for me to have become the President of SAVIR in April of 2022; a society of professionals who are committed to advancing violence and injury research, practice and education. I am also humbled by the faith colleagues have shown in me to lead this great association. In this editorial, I will share my reflections and SAVIR’s priorities in the years ahead.

With support from the US CDC, injury research centre directors across the country started the National Association of Injury Control Research Centers (NAICRC) in 1990s. Several years later, NAICRC was changed to SAVIR in order to be more inclusive of injury centres not supported by CDC and public health practitioners who might not have been engaged in research but were practicing injury prevention. Over the years, many distinguished scholars and leaders not only trained and mentored countless young researchers and professionals, but also put in tremendous effort to develop and grow the violence and injury research and prevention field.1 2 SAVIR has evolved to become a leading academic society for violence prevention and injury control research, due to the commitment, energy and great effort of many distinguished scholars and leaders.

It is inspiring to read the seminal research, challenges and practice of those pioneers who have been making significant contribution to our field over the past three decades.2 Their efforts in establishing the first issue of Injury Prevention in 1995 met many challenges but through determination, perseverance, and leadership, Injury Prevention is now SAVIR’s official journal. It is critical for the new generation of scholars to stand on the shoulders of those giants and to proactively seek out guidance and wisdom from them. We need to learn from past lessons and not re-invent the wheel. Thus, SAVIR Executive Committee and Board of Directors decided to officially establish the Council of Past Presidents.

In a recent publication,3 36 distinguished injury researchers and practitioners in North America shared their perspective on major accomplishments as well as disappointments in violence and injury prevention since the publication of the 1985 Institute of Medicine seminal report Injury in America.4 Three major achievements identified are: ‘creating the institutions, data systems and an educational pipeline’; ‘changing attitudes and social norms about injury and violence prevention’; and ‘gaining knowledge and reducing actual injury’. These eminent scholars also note, importantly, that our field still faces three major challenges: inadequate funding, narrowness and slow advancements in combatting firearm injuries and deaths. As SAVIR moves forward through the COVID-19 pandemic and now many professional societies are planning to return to normal work and in-personal annual meetings, it is important for the members and partners to revisit the SAVIR’s mission:

To address issues relevant to the prevention, acute care and rehabilitation of injury and violence through multiple activities in research; research dissemination; programme and policy development and evaluation; consultation; and education and training.

This mission should always be the guiding star for us while we continue our effective programmes and plan for new initiatives. The SAVIR Executive Committee and Board of Directors worked together during the first 100 days of my presidency to strategically develop the following major new initiatives: an aggressive One-Ten Campaign for each member to engage ten other violence and injury scholars to attract more professionals to become SAVIR members; the Distinguished Scholars Forum to invite eminent scholars and leaders to share their wisdom and perspective on violence prevention and injury research priorities; creating a SAVIR Presidential Award for Distinguished Scholar and add other prestigious awards to recognise and celebrate achievements of junior, mid-career and senior professionals who promote excellence in violence and injury research and policy.

This mission also means that SAVIR needs to do more to engage researchers and professionals in disciplines such as emergency medicine, trauma care, rehabilitation, communication science, mental and behavioural health, etc. Preventing violence and injury from occurring in the first place is the foremost priority but providing the best emergency and trauma care, rehabilitation and mental and behavioural health support to those who suffer from violence and injury is also important. We will miss many opportunities to make the world healthier and safer if we do not actively seek out partnerships with researchers and practitioners in these health-related fields. Furthermore, as advised by the senior scholars’ views compiled by Hemenway,3 the violence prevention and injury control field is still too siloed, so we must also reach out to professionals in nontraditional health-related disciplines such as marketing, law enforcement, forensic science and other sectors of science to fully address this important problem. The Executive Committee and Board of Directors strongly recommended SAVIR members to form special interest group(s) to address the narrowness of our field by engaging more with these groups that have not previously been as active in SAVIR.

According to the WHO, an estimated 90% of injury-related deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries.5 I had the privilege of working together with Dr. Lorann Stallones, my PhD advisor at the Department of Psychology at Colorado State University and the Deputy Director of High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, from 2006 to 2012 to codirect a trauma and injury D43 training programme funded by the National Institute of Health Fogarty International Center. A total of 150 mid-and-senior-level injury researchers and practitioners attended the training workshop and a group of them came to the USA to receive hands-on research training at our two injury control research centres. Many of our trainees have become esteemed scholars and leaders who hold key leadership positions at universities as well as at local, provincial and national CDC (China CDC).6–8 More importantly, due to their efforts as well as contributions of other researchers, professionals and leaders, injury control research has become a reputable discipline among the two dozen health-related scientific fields in China. Our project has shown that global collaboration is rewarding and could have significant impact on violence and injury research and prevention around the world. There are multiple trauma and injury D43 training programmes funded by the NIH Fogarty International Center and the majority of them are led by US scholars, thus, it is a great opportunity for SAVIR to engage and learn from those eminent scholars.

Now is a challenging time which has become complicated by geopolitics,9 the infodemic on internet and social media,10 11 rising firearm injuries,12 preventable opioid-related deaths,13 mental health issues and suicides that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,14 15 and inadequate funding for violence and injury control and research.3 While we recognise the ongoing challenges facing global scientific collaboration,9 we must strategically advocate, navigate and protect scientific advancement from geopolitics. As J William Fulbright advocated so eloquently five decades ago: ‘we must learn to explore all the options and possibilities that confront us in a complex and rapidly changing world.’ I am optimistic that SAVIR will lead with excellence and in the post-COVID-19 era there will be great many opportunities for us to work toward a healthier and safer world goal.

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Acknowledgments

I thank Dr. Lorann Stallones, Dr. Carol Runyan, and Dr. Kelly Kelleher for reading the manuscript and sharing useful comments. I also want to thank Megan Armstrong for the editing help.

References

Footnotes

  • Contributors HX conceptualised and drafted the manuscript. He approved the final version for publication.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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