3 Dec, 13 | by Barry Pless
3 Dec, 13 | by Bridie Scott-Parker
Unfortunately in Australia in the last week, two men have died as a result of shark bites. The media response, which by no means is unique in these cases, has been overwhelming, with responses ranging from the call to kill the offending sharks (despite protestations of the family, for example see http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-01/search-for-shark-that-killed-bodyboarder-zac-young/5127228), and increasing the range of shark netting (despite the widespread death of other sea creatures, see http://www.smh.com.au/environment/marine-ecologists-urge-rethink-of-shark-netting-after-fatal-attack-20131202-2ym2x.html).
Unfortunately in Queensland, Australia, in the last year, 252 people have died as a result of a road crash. Using crude maths, this is nearly five people a week in one state alone. The media response, which by no means is unique in each of these cases, has been underwhelming. The names, locations, circumstances, perspectives of family members, political and policy responses remain unknown for these five people.
As an Australian, I know the details of each shark death. As a Queenslander, I know no details of each road death.
Coming from a social psychology epistemology as I work in injury prevention, I find this huge disconnect alarming. Is it that we are used to people being killed in a road crash? Is it that a road crash is a less scary way to die, when compared to being bitten by a shark? Even in the Decade of Action for Road Safety, and in comparison to the shark-related deaths, the story of these latest five people remains unknown, the media remain relatively silent, politicians remain unswayed, policy and practice remains unchanged, and the systemic risks which contributed to these deaths remain unidentified and unchallenged.
How do injury prevention professionals move forward? I remain perplexed, but I am tenacious and will persist in my determination to keep young driver road safety on the agenda and actually reduce their toll of injury and death.
27 Nov, 13 | by Bridie Scott-Parker
Following on from Monday’s blog re: glassing and mugging, today I would like to comment on another behaviour of concern for injury prevention: the king-hit. The king-hit has featured widely in recent Australian media, with newspaper coverage of the court trial of a young man accused of king-hitting a tourist in our nation’s capital emerging just four hours ago (http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/irish-tourist-left-with-severe-brain-damage-after-king-hit-20131125-2y5wu.html).
Whilst the actual king-hit can break bones such as the jaw bone, the cheek bone and eye socket, the most alarming damage is to the brain. Not only can the brain be twisted suddenly in the skull at the time of impact, the victim is usually knocked out by the punch and their fall is not softened by outstretched arms and their head impacts heavily on the ground. The result can be a fractured skull and causing widespread brain damage.
I tried to find statistics regarding the prevalence/characteristics/outcomes of king-hit violence, and have been unable to do so. I also tried to find peer-reviewed literature regarding king-hit incidences and injuries, however I am still searching. Perhaps the injury mechanism has different nomenclature in other jurisdictions? Therefore I glanced over other coverage of king-hit incidences in our media (and I would encourage readers to feel equally-outraged againts the light sentence against a troubled young man convicted after the death of his king-hit victim:http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/horrified-mother-of-victim-calls-for-tougher-stance-on-kinghit-killer/story-fni0cx12-1226755619742) and identified a variety of factors which appear to play a role in this particularly violent behaviour:
* the perpetrator is male;
* the perpetrator is ‘violent’, ‘angry’, or ‘aggressive’;
* the perpetrator is younger;
* the victim is unknown to the perpetrator;
* the assault is unprovoked;
* the perpetrator flees the scene; and
* alcohol is usually involved, particularly for the perpetrator.
These trends highlight the importance of neurocognitive and psychosocial maturation, alcohol, and a perceived anonymity in the behaviour which impacts greatly upon another person. I am sure readers will agree that there is nothing royal about the king-hit!
26 Nov, 13 | by Bridie Scott-Parker
Today I am writing more of a sharing-scary-experience blog, and some of my findings after a quick stickybeak on the internet.
Last night with my evening meal, I had corn as one of my 2-and-5 (for those outside Australia, a public health promotion encourages each Australian to eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day as part of a balanced diet). Little did I know that my favourite vegetable was indeed a silent assassin!
As part of the dinner conversation, a particularly funny anecdote meant that I suddenly, and quite involuntarily, burst into laughter. I had virtually completed swallowing a mouthful of corn at the time, and the sudden whooping of air which occurred as part of my laughter meant that corn was sucked into my airway before it could safely traverse my oesophagus and enter my stomach. I could actually feel a corn kernel rattling about in my trachea as I struggled to propel it upwards using what little air I had left in my lungs (not a lot!).
Needless to say I am still here, so the extrication was successful. However my doting husband spent the 10 minutes or so it took me to get my breathing back under control, minus the killer corn, trying to convince me to administer Ventolin as I am an asthmatic. Given the logistics of aerosol reliever medication, and my inability to speak clearly during this time, there was much gesticulating and furrowed brow! My husband had no idea I was actually choking, despite said gesticulations, and this certainly did nothing to relieve my anxiety after the choking incident had been resolved. Thankfully I did not have an asthma attack, which I have found in my case ironically sometimes can be brought upon by a coughing attack.
So today I did a quick search of PubMed and found many articles regarding choking, even one reporting on the experiences of someone choking on a live fish! Hmmm, my killer corn seems quite tame in comparison. I also did a quick search for some general statistics regarding choking, and was alarmed to find that every five days one child in the US dies from choking (read more at http://www.becpr.org/facts_statistics.aspx). Finding statistics regarding adult choking was more difficult, and I wonder just how many have a near-miss such as myself.
From now on we shall try to reduce the hilarity of our dinner conversation!
Oh, and when their breathing returns to normal, hug the poor person who had been choking – they are going to need it because it is a scary experience!
25 Nov, 13 | by Bridie Scott-Parker
Glassing – that is, assault with a glass implement - often involves an assailant smashing a glass into someone’s face, at which point the glass shatters and the victim is cut by the glass shards. In Australia, popular media has paid much attention to this issue, possibly in part due to the sensational nature of the injury: typically an innocent person is drinking alcohol, some sort of negative interaction occurs with another person (usually, though not always), and the perpetrator lashes out with the glass/bottle from which they themselves have been drinking. Injuries can range from mild cuts and bruising, to deep gouges requiring surgical repair, permanent nerve damage and impaired vision, therefore it is understandable that glassing is on the injury prevention agenda. Various state governments in Australia introduced bans on glass cups and bottles in licensed venues throughout 2008-2010 in response to these injuries, and it appears that glassing injuries have reduced in these venues (which appears to simply reflect a reduction in access to the injury mechanism) . Glassing is ‘sensational’ but does this mean it is a huge problem?
Laing, Sendall and Barker recently examined the injury surveillance data of alcohol-related injuries between 1999 and 2011. Perhaps unsurprisingly to Injury Prevention readers, of the 4629 cases examined, 72% were male. Over one quarter were males aged 18-24 years, and 9% of injuries identified were due to glassing. One third of alcohol-related glassings occurred in the home, with a bottle the mechanism of injury in 84% of cases. One quarter of cases occurred in a public space (e.g., outdoors, street) with bottles again the most common mechanism of injury. Interestingly 33% of 18-24 year olds reported glassings occurred in a licensed venue, with bottles and drinking glasses equally likely to be the mechanism of injury. Read more at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24118859.
For international readers, a popular practice in Australia for youth who have just finished Senior (year 12) studies is to frequent the Gold Coast for a week of partying, known as Schoolies. States finish their studies at different times, with Queensland Schoolies being held last week. In an attack reminiscent of glassing, a girl was assaulted with a ceramic mug which smashed and caused cuts which bled profusely as head wounds do. Again, sensational, however not a huge problem for injury prevention. Read more at http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/schoolie-covered-in-blood-after-hotel-room-attack-20131120-2xv8d.html.
I will leave it up to readers to decide if glassing and ‘mugging’ indeed are huge injury prevention problems.
19 Nov, 13 | by Barry Pless
This surprising finding by Mariana Brussoni in BC and colleagues in Wales rings true with me; in the last 20 or so years I have had a fractured nose from being doored, a fractured clavicle from having fallen down stairs at Sydney Airport (or was I pushed?), and a fractured heel from a fall in circumstances too embarrassing to describe. Whether my total exceeds the national average I do not know. Mariana said “We weren’t surprised when we found what we did, but we were surprised at how strong the effect was.” I too am surprised by the ‘strong effect’ but reject her speculation that one explanation may be “risk compensation”. Nor do I accept the complacency or infallibility hypotheses. Rather, I postulate that the 400 respondents were simply more forthcoming (i.e., honest) than those in the Community Health Survey sample. The problem is there is no easy way to confirm the validity of the answers in either survey so we may never know. Note: for the full story and all the data check the current issue of Injury Prevention.
3 Nov, 13 | by Bridie Scott-Parker
I was shocked to read in a recent media release by the Guide Dogs of Australia that half their vision impaired and blind clients had a near miss with a vehicle whilst they tried to cross the road at some time in the past five years, with 1 in 15 clients reporting they had actually been struck by the vehicle! Pedestrians are widely-recognised as a vulnerable road-user group, however I would suggest that surely vision-impaired pedestrians are particularly vulnerable and as such extra vigilance to the road and pedestrians is required by cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers alike.
October 15 was International White Cane Day, and Guide Dogs New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) in conjunction with the NSW Government, NRMA, the NSW Police Force and the Centre for Road Safety at Transport NSW are trying to raise driver awareness of pedestrian safety in a new campaign “Watch out, cane about”. Readers can visit http://www.guidedogs.com.au/news-and-events/events/15-10-2013/watch-out-cane-about to see the media campaign and see and hear vision impaired persons talk about negotiating their life – including the road – with a cane.
Dr Graeme White, CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, said “Interestingly, clients reported most incidents occur with cars not stopping or giving way at marked pedestrian crossings. Other common incidents experienced when crossing roads were drivers flashing lights, honking horns, shouting instructions and even getting out of the car to physically assist.”
“The best ways to help are to abide by the road rules, while exercising extra caution and allowing more time. You should never assume a pedestrian has full vision to assist in their decision making and will stop if you decide not to.”
I encourage all blog readers to familiarise themselves with the campaign and to share this information with their wider network, improving road safety not only for vision-impaired pedestrians but indeed for all pedestrians.
19 Oct, 13 | by Barry Pless
I have often inveighed against open access journals, or at least urged readers of this blog to be alert to predatory journals. Recently Retraction Watch posted an item from Science that greatly strengthens my concerns. The posting describes a paper sent to over 300 OA journals that was accepted by over one half. The only problem was that the paper was a spoof and carefully designed to make the problems both scientific and literary entirely evident. Here is part of what the report says:
Science reporter spoofs hundreds of open access journals with fake papers
… today, we bring you news of an effort by John Bohannon , of Sciencemagazine, to publish fake papers in more than 300 open access journals.Bohannon, writing as “Ocorrafoo Cobange” of the “Wassee Institute of Medicine” — neither of which exist, of course — explains his process:
The goal was to create a credible but mundane scientific paper, one with such grave errors that a competent peer reviewer should easily identify it as flawed and unpublishable. Submitting identical papers to hundreds of journals would be asking for trouble. But the papers had to be similar enough that the outcomes between journals could be comparable. So I created a scientific version of Mad Libs.
The paper took this form: Molecule X from lichen species Y inhibits the growth of cancer cell Z. To substitute for those variables, I created a database of molecules, lichens, and cancer cell lines and wrote a computer program to generate hundreds of unique papers. Other than those differences, the scientific content of each paper is identical.
Bohannon then combed the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) andJeffrey Beall’s list of possible predatory publishers , using various filters:
The final list of targets came to 304 open-access publishers: 167 from the DOAJ, 121 from Bealls list, and 16 that were listed by both.
By the time Science went to press, 157 of the journals had accepted the paper and 98 had rejected it. Of the remaining 49 journals, 29 seem to be derelict: websites abandoned by their creators. Editors from the other 20 had e-mailed the fictitious corresponding authors stating that the paper was still under review…
Bohannon’s analysis , which goes into far more depth, demonstrates an appalling lack of peer review and quality control at the journals he spoofed. ….
Still, we will not be surprised if some traditional publishing advocates useBohannon’s sting as ammunition to fight wider adoption of open access. That gunpowder may be a bit wet, by the way. Bohannon writes:
Journals published by Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, and Sage all accepted my bogus paper.
And Retraction Watch readers may recall that it was Applied Mathematics Letters— a non-open-access journal published by Elsevier — that published a string of bizarre papers , including one that was retracted because it made “no sense mathematically ” and another whose corresponding author’s email address was “email@example.com.”
Retractions, as readers may guess — and perhaps hope — will be forthcoming now that Bohannon’s sting has been revealed. Here’s part of a message theOpen Access Scholarly Publishing Association sent its members earlier this week:
In the event that your publishing organization has accepted and published the article, we expect you to follow recognized retraction procedures. if you require any assistance or guidance on retracting the article, the OASPA board will be happy to assist with this. In addition, should it be the case that OASPA members have published the paper, we will prepare a retraction notice/explanation that your organization may choose to use.
We’ll see if this changes the mind of the editor of the Journal of Biochemical and Pharmacological Research, who shrugged when “Cobange” told him the paper was fatally flawed and should be retracted. A correction would do, he said.
Editors note: This is funny but scary. I urge readers tempted to respond to one of those tempting time-limited offers to publish at a reduced rate to read this piece and the original if they can and then pause and think again.
4 Oct, 13 | by Bridie Scott-Parker
We all know that injury prevention research and intervention is frequently at the beck and call of funding by governments and policy-makers, industry and research councils. Funding decisions are often informed by statistics, such as prevalence and incidence, therefore it is vital that injury prevention researchers and practitioners have access to – and report – the most complete statistics possible.
Related to this point, today I came across an interesting article by Neate, Bugeja, Jelinek, Spooner, Ding and Ranson in the Medical Journal of Australia titled “Non-reporting of reportable deaths to the coroner: When in doubt, report”. In Victoria, Australia, “deaths that appear unexpected, unnatural or violent or have resulted directly or indirectly from an accident or injury, or are related to a medical procedure” must be reported to the Coroner. Doctors must submit a death certificate for deaths arising from all other causes to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). However, in recent years BDM staff noted that death certificates had been inappropriately issued for cases that should have been referred to the coroner, therefore the researchers sought to examine these cases, including the accuracy of the death certificate between 1 July 2003 and 30 June 2011.
Focusing upon the period between 1 July 2010 and 30 June 2011, 656 deaths were referred from BDM to the Coroner. Of these, subsequent investigation revealed 48.8% of the deaths were reportable, nearly all of which resulted from trauma (190 fracture-related deaths; 107 head injury-related deaths). Non-trauma related causes included choking, poisoning, and transport-related. Nearly 56% were women, 44.7% were aged 80-89 years, and 45.6% of death certificates required major changes to correct inaccuracies.
The Authors propose a number of reasons for such a high inaccuracy rate, ranging from difficulty in understanding reporting obligations to the erroneous belief that deaths are only reportable if they are deemed to be ‘suspicious’. Of particular interest to injury prevention researchers and practitioners, as noted by the Authors
“Detailed death investigations can provide vital information….regarding not only the cause of death, but also potentially preventable aspects of the death. This information is important to the health system and the wider community as it underpins patient management, risk management systems and disease prevention strategies.”
1 Oct, 13 | by Barry Pless
Another anti helmet legislation argument bites the dust
When Ian Walker’s paper appeared in Accid Anal Prev in 2007 purporting to show that cars drove closer to helmeted than unhelmeted cyclists, it was quickly used as another argument against helmet legislation. But for me as a long time cyclist, something did not ring true. Jake Olivier, a statistician from Australia, had the same vibes and reanalysed Walker’s data. The email from him below gives the publication details. Another anti-legislation argument crumbles. “My re-analysis of Ian Walker’s now famous naturalistic cycling study on motor vehicle passing distance has been published by PLOS ONE. My conclusion is that while vehicle size, cyclist distance to the kerb and city of occurrence (Bristol or Salisbury, UK) are important factors associated with close passing (<1m), helmet wearing is not a significant factor. The real differences in passing distance when wearing or not wearing a helmet occur for distances greater than 1.5m. I first submitted this paper to AAP as it was the journal that published Walker’s original work. It was primarily rejected on the grounds that there is no justification for the one metre rule (3 foot rule). My analysis was an assessment of helmet wearing relative to road safety policy that exists or is promoted in many jurisdictions. Still, that is why this paper is in PLOS ONE and not AAP. This work was actually two studies – one in road safety and the other statistical. They are meant to complement each other. The stats one is pretty dense, but it was needed to demonstrate Walker overpowered his study, thereby misinterpreting his statistical results. http://www.plosone.org/article/citationList.action;jsessionid=B57108C74B43A32BEF8E9F2A6AB85C9F?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0075424
Editors note: A fascinating paper in PLOS ONE highlights the importance of publishing replications in the same journal… and the importance of the original authors acknowledging they were mistaken if that is what is found. Here is the Abstract. The underlining is mine. “Social psychology and related disciplines are seeing a resurgence of interest in replication, as well as actual replication efforts. But prior work suggests that even a clear demonstration that a finding is invalid often fails to shake acceptance of the finding. This threatens the full impact of these replication efforts. Here we show that the actions of two key players – journal editors and the authors of original (invalidated) research findings – are critical to the broader public’s continued belief in an invalidated research conclusion. Across three experiments, we show that belief in an invalidated finding falls sharply when a critical failed replication is published in the same – versus different – journal as the original finding, and when the authors of the original finding acknowledge that the new findings invalidate their conclusions. We conclude by discussing policy implications of our key findings.”
Citation: Eriksson K, Simpson B (2013) Editorial Decisions May Perpetuate Belief in Invalid Research Findings. PLoS ONE 8(9): e73364. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073364
PS.. This will appear in the next issue of News and Notes but it seemed important enough to duplicate on the blog.
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