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Firearms in the house and risk of suicide

8 Jul, 15 | by jsantaella

Suicide is an important form of external-cause mortality. The World Health Organization estimates that every 40 seconds a person commits suicide in the world. Given that a high proportion of suicides happen impulsively it makes sense that limiting the easy access to lethal means of suicide, such as firearms, during the suicidal crisis, could help to reduce the occurrence of suicides.

The recent work of Barber and Miller – Reducing a Suicidal Person’s Access to Lethal Means of Suicide -
A Research Agenda, provides an interesting review of studies with evidence supporting the link between firearm ownership and suicide risk. This is a particularly important area of research in the U.S. given the fact that most suicides are committed using firearms, firearms are one of the most lethal methods, and also because firearms are highly accessible and cognitively acceptable in U.S. culture. In their review, the authors provide evidence from different individual and ecological studies that consistently show an association between firearm ownership and higher risk of dying by suicide. The authors also present evidence from studies showing that among firearm households there is lower risk of suicides when firearms are stored unloaded, locked, and separately from ammunition. In addition, the review shows information from studies suggesting that personal factors, that could influence both the likelihood of buying a firearm and of committing suicide, are not likely to be explaining the firearms-suicide risk connection, given that people living in homes with firearms are no more likely to screen positive for psychopathology or suicidal ideation, or to report suicide attempts, than those living in homes without firearms.

Given the evidence, it is possible that alternative solutions may be effective. For example, raising awareness about the increased risk of suicide when there is a firearm in the home is key especially during critical times. Simultaneously providing information on available services (e.g. counseling available through hotlines or apps in mobile phones) may be effective, at least in part, in counteracting the current U.S. scenario in which approximately 19,000 individuals commit suicide using firearms every year.

Use area-wide traffic calming to reduce road carnage

8 Jul, 15 | by jmagoola

Yesterday the Uganda was hit by news of a road traffic crash in which 13 high school students were seriously injured.  This is the fourth crash to be registered on the newly-constructed Masaka highway (linking the capital city of Uganda-Kampala to Kigali, Rwanda) in a space of ten days. Just days earlier, three people including a beauty queen and a local journalist  were killed when their speeding car lost control and swerved into a swamp.  Barely two days earlier, another crash on the same road had claimed three lives and left scores nursing injuries  following reckless driving and over speeding.

Previous research has already shown that area-wide traffic calming has the potential to prevent road traffic deaths and injuries.  There are a number of area-wide traffic calming mechanisms to choose from as a way of promoting road safety, such as the creation of one way streets, changes at junctions, or speed humpsSpeed bumps to calm traffic, traffic lights, road signage, road surface treatment to make roads slip-proof, to mention but a few. With the road sector continuing to exist as the ultimately one of the most important modes of transportation worldwide, this is partly why road traffic deaths and injuries continue to rise. The beauty about this all is that the causes of road traffic crashes/accidents are known to us and they (crashes/accidents) are easily preventable if we all elect to strictly adhere to road safety mechanisms and interventions to reduce the carnage on our roads.

Management of sports-related concussion: is research making a difference yet?

8 Jul, 15 | by Sheree Bekker


Sports-related concussion is currently, arguably, the most heated topic in sports injury prevention. Sensationalist media headlines and stories about the toll of concussive hits, particularly in contact sports, are all-too-common. Recently, during the FIFA Women’s World Cup, we saw this head-knock between Alexandra Popp and Morgan Brian, which once again called into question protocols around the handling of suspected concussion in sports settings.

Concussion is known to be an important issue, and its prevention is of utmost importance for the health and safety of all those who play sport. A recent study monitored the number of people treated in hospital for sport-related concussion over a period of nine years in Victoria, Australia. It showed that more people are being hospitalised for sports-related concussion than in the past, but we don’t know why. We think that better healthcare, more people knowing about concussion and the importance of being monitored for symptoms, as well as changes in the way that sport is played could all have contributed to the increase.

Concussion recognition tools and management guidelines are available freely online: the Sideline Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT3) and the Child SCAT3  are based on this International Conference on Concussion in Sport consensus statement.

The SCAT3 clearly states:

Any athlete with a suspected concussion should be removed from play, medically assessed, monitored for deterioration (i.e., should not be left alone) and should not drive a motor vehicle until cleared to do so by a medical professional. No athlete diagnosed with concussion should be returned to sports participation on the day of injury.

Yet, as is shown in the media and on our sports fields, more often than not this advice is not followed. It is true that general knowledge about concussion symptoms is good (and most people now understand that you do not need to be knocked ‘out cold’ to experience concussion), but knowledge about concussion management in sport settings is lagging.

A recent article published in Injury Prevention, An examination of concussion education programmes: a scoping review methodology showed that concussion guidelines effected:

short-term improvements in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours; however, the long-term benefits of concussion education programmes were less clear

It has been found that coaches and sports trainers tasked with concussion management do not yet know how to fully use concussion guidelines, even if they are aware of them being available. They need more education and hands-on practical experience. Asking a player if they want to play on after a head-knock is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Whilst it may appear a common sense question at first, we just do not know enough about how potentially concussive head-knocks affect individuals, and as such cannot rely on the athlete with potential concussion to make such a call. It is vitally important that concussion management is addressed by sports governing bodies, put into operation by clubs, and handled correctly and ethically by team doctors, coaches, and sports trainers  – for the ultimate welfare of athletes.

Research into the management of sports-related concussion can, and should, do more to effect change. Guidelines are necessary but insufficient. Conceiving injury prevention interventions differently by recognising the unique and nuanced challenges of sports culture – such as the win-at-all-costs attitude, and the celebration of hero-athletes returning to play – within complex sports settings is vital.

*Thanks Reidar Lystad for suggesting the chocolate teapot metaphor on twitter last night.

Media and injury prevention

6 Jul, 15 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

As an injury prevention researcher, I am often dismayed at the way in which injuries, risk, and injury prevention efforts are portrayed in the media. I clearly recall being disgusted as an idealistic teenager, having read a newspaper article regarding the untimely death of a peer who had been killed during a police chase. The police involved were vilified, and the article waxed lyrical about how the teen was a pillar of the community, which was a very different representation of reality. Since this time I have taken most media with a grain of salt, preferring to investigate myself, and to make up my own mind, rather than blithely accepting everything that is said, written and printed. I realise this is not the case for everyone, however, and the media has an amazing capacity to influence public opinion, which is highly relevant for injury prevention efforts in particular.

My post today was prompted by the publication of a paper in Accident Analysis and Prevention by Brubacher, Desapriya, Chan, Ranatunga, Harjee, Erdelyi, Asbridge, Purssel, and Pike. Brubacher and colleagues noted that British Colombia introduced new road safety laws focused on impaired driving, speeding and distracted driving in 2010, and examined the focus of the injury-related media during the period May 2010 to December 2012. From an injury prevention perspective, clearly these laws are designed to keep British Colombians safe – not just drivers, but others with whom they share the road such as pedestrians. Pleasingly 51% of reports which mentioned the new laws were supportive, but disappointingly 11% of reports were against the changes: in real terms this means that every tenth article during this time was NOT supportive of these injury prevention efforts.

To maximise our capacity as injury prevention researchers, policy-makers and practitioners, I believe it is vital to work with media as much as possible, clearly and consistently emphasising benefits rather than giving extensive airtime to perceived downsides such as being ‘unfair’ (downsides of which personally I struggle greatly to relate – I think being injured or killed by a distracted, impaired, and/or drunk driver is unfair).

Minimising dance injury through changing dance floors

25 Jun, 15 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

As someone who has appreciated many dance performances (primarily as I have absolutely NO dancing ability or talent in any single speck of my body!), and as an injury prevention researcher and advocate, my interest was piqued by an article authored by Hopper, Alderson, Elliott, & Ackland recently published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. Having been made for martial arts instead of dancing, I can still recall as a teen the difference flooring can make when you ‘land hard’ – bouts on a tatami were much preferred to bouts in a gymnasium with wood floors (too hard) or with gymnastic mats (too soft). Shin splints already irritated by running hurdles and leaping triple jump were further aggravated by both types of floors. Similarly, Hopper and colleagues note that dance floors have the capacity to contribute to – or prevent – ankle injuries such as ankle tendinopathies and sprains. In their examination of ankle joint mechanics, 14 dancers performed drop landings on five different floors. They note that “Considering the large mechanical demand required to stabilize the ankle joint during landings, floor properties that can absorb landing energy have the potential to reduce ankle joint loads.” Given that nearly 30 years later my shin splints can be aggravated simply by playing a game of basketball with my husband and children (I have decided that it is not simply due to ageing!), it is important to prevent injury wherever possible. Minimising injury is the next best step, although I really don’t think I can blame my shin splints for my non-dancing career path. Thankfully my career does not depend on my lower legs!

More background on our blogging team

19 Jun, 15 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

Blog 3: So today I wanted to share some more background on our blogging team. As an applied social psychologist, I find this information very interesting indeed!

What excites you about being part of the Injury Prevention social media editorial team?  

Sheree Bekker: The invaluable conversation that has sprung up around scholarly work through the collaborative power of social media and blogs inspires me to no end. I tend to find more relevant scholarly content through Twitter than through traditional platforms, and Injury Prevention has played a big part in that. As researchers, I believe that we should own our voice on social media, and constructively add value to this conversation.

David Bui: Through my studies in medical school I have seen the costs of injuries to society and individuals worldwide.  This is a great opportunity to harness the underutilised power of Social Media in health promotion and Injury Prevention, across multiple disciplines and multiple borders.

Angy El-Khatib: Being a part of the Injury Prevention social media editorial team is a great opportunity personally and collectively. By being a part of the social media editorial team, I am able to stay up to date on various topics within the realm of Injury Prevention while acquiring different perspectives from individuals from different backgrounds, disciplines, and locations. I’m also excited to be able to potentially increase readership and engage readers to create a conversation around the latest Injury Prevention research and ideas.

Klara Johansson: I am very interested to explore ways to share and disseminate knowledge and research results, outside the “old-school”, regular channels. I look forward to learning from my new co-editors, who all seem to be great communicators.

Joseph Magoola: The opportunity to work and collaborate with a variety of scholars on the injury prevention platform is nothing short of exciting. It also excites and inspires me to have an opportunity to represent Africa since low and medium income countries bear the brunt of the injury burden.

Julian Santaella-Tenorio: It is really exciting to be part of this team and to have a space to communicate and express ideas on ways to improve injury prevention, and to discuss about new studies and topics relevant to this field. I am very motivated to learn more and continue growing as a researcher as I walk through this experience.

What are you passionate about?

Sheree Bekker: Intersectional issues drive my life’s work, and my aim is that my research is, and always will be, an extension of that.

David Bui: Passionate about bringing people and ideas together.

Angy El-Khatib: I am passionate about translating scientific evidence and research into public health action. My goal is to improve the health and wellbeing of myself as well as my community. Outside of my work, I am passionate about health, fitness, and wellness.

Klara Johansson: Open discussions and innovative research in collaborative teams with high scientific ambition + high levels of tolerance and kindness; I also enjoy making difficult subjects understandable to students and the general population. Passions on my free time: nature, gardening, books, movies, writing fiction, playing music (clarinet, harmonium, piano, accordion).

Joseph Magoola: Writing on my social media accounts (facebook, twitter and my blog) as a way of reaching out to the masses. I am also interested travelling a lot, especially by road and as such, ensuring road safety is part and parcel of my aims to contribute towards reducing the carnage of our roads.

Julian Santaella-Tenorio: I am passionate about things that can make people have a better, healthier and happier life. I am inspired by ideas challenging previous knowledge, creative thinking finding answers from different angles, and the power of multidisciplinary groups. That is why I am passionate about public health research.


I hope you are looking forward to hearing from our bloggers, starting next month!

More background on our new blogging team

18 Jun, 15 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

Today I will share more about our blogging team members.

Blog 2: Explain your injury prevention research and interests.

Sheree Bekker: My research investigates safety promotion and injury prevention policy and practice within community sport in Australia. I have a particular interest in dissemination and social marketing. The overall purpose of my research is to allow people to be safe, as well as feel safe, whilst participating in sport or physical activity.

David Bui: Undertaking a number of different projects currently; my injury prevention research focuses on Hip fracture and Falls Prevention research, working with Neuroscience Research Australia. I am also looking into Social Media and its utility in healthcare and civilian settings, and I believe that it represents a powerful new medium in health promotion and injury prevention.

Angy El-Khatib: I am interested in integrating public health approaches with athletic training practice. Athletic training has traditionally focused on the individual but may be able to maximize the effectiveness of prevention efforts by using population-level approaches to improve health and wellness.

Klara Johansson: I am not currently doing research on injury/safety. But I am interested in social difference in injury risk – and also how perceived risk of injuries affects people’s daily lives, mobility, fears and physical activity; and how perceived and real injury risks interrelate with each other and with gender and socioeconomics. Main focus on adolescent safety; real and perceived. Also interested in open data and availability/accessibility of injury statistics globally.

Joseph Magoola: My research interests center around prevention of injury, especially through generation of data for evidence-based decision making and policy action. I am also interested in the use of media to disseminate research findings and for advocacy.

Julian Santaella-Tenorio: At the moment I conduct research on policy evaluation, specifically on policies that impact injury-related outcomes. I am interested in looking at substance use policies and firearm-related legislation and their effects on the health of populations.

Tomorrow: Learn about their passions!

Very exciting news!

16 Jun, 15 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

Announcing the new Injury Prevention social media editorial team

Today I am both delighted and honoured as Senior Blog Editor to introduce our outstanding team of Injury Prevention Blog Editors. Over the coming days I will blog so that you can learn quite a bit about our Editors, including their experience and injury prevention interests. I am sure over time you will come to eagerly await their next blog and their latest tweet!

Blog 1:  Tell us about yourself and introduce your tweet

Sheree Bekker:   PhD scholar originally from South Africa, currently based at the Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP), Federation University Australia. My PhD research is on the development and dissemination of safety promotion and injury prevention resources for community sport in Australia. @shereebekker is based @ACRISPFedUni researching #dissemination #sportsafety & #injuryprevention. Student representative @_AIPN

David Bui: Final year B. Med / M.D. student at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia. Research interests in Injury prevention in a variety of settings, including Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine and Performing Arts Medicine, as well as Medical Education. Current President of UNSW Sports Medicine Society. @David_Bui_  is a final year BMed/MD student @UNSW. Passionate about #injuryprevention #Ortho, #Sportsmed #MusicMed #MedEd #FOAMed. President @UNSWSportMedsoc

Angy El-Khatib: Master of Public Health from West Virginia University. Background in Athletic Training from Marshall University. I am interested in intersecting public health approaches into athletic training practice to address injury prevention issues at the population level. @angyotensin is a MPH grad of @WVUPublicHealth. Alum of @MUSportsMed. Interested in intersecting #publichealth with #athletictraining.

Klara Johansson: Public health researcher from Sweden, with a PhD degree from Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, currently based at Umeå university, Sweden. @KlaJoh, is researcher at @UmeaUniversity (and consultant). Research on #adolescent #safety, #mental_health, #sexuality, #gender

Joseph Magoola: Masters of Public Health graduate, based at Makerere University School of Public Health, Kampala Uganda. I am currently coordinating a collaboration research study between Johns Hopkins University and Makerere University on saving lives in drowning, as well as writing a manuscript of my MPH dissertation research. #Injuryprevention @jmagoola is based @maksph and blogs about #injuries on

Julian Santaella-Tenorio: Third year epidemiology doctoral student at Columbia University in New York. I am originally from Colombia, South America. My research interest focuses on injury and violence prevention, substance abuse and mental health. @Juliaosanta is a DrPH candidate at @cuepidemiology at @Columbia currently doing research on injury and violence prevention

Thank you to my team of Blog Editors for sharing with us, and I look forward to sharing more tomorrow.


Self-report versus observation

14 Jun, 15 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

For various reasons ranging from cost to a lack of alternatives, self-report is a common data collection method. However, anyone who has used a self-report data collection method would be well aware of the limitations of this method. Limitations primarily focus on the accuracy of responses, and can include such considerations as an intentional reporting bias (e.g., the participant wants to be seen in a positive light), and an unintentional reporting bias (e.g., the participant simply forgot that they had engaged in the targeted behaviour). I myself have used self-report methodology in a number of different research projects, therefore I am always interested in studies which investigate the validity of self-report measures by comparing the findings with other methodologies.

One recent study compared self-report findings with the findings from home-based observations: Osborne, Shibl, Cameron, Kendrick, Lyons, Spinks, Sipe, and McClure report that in some instances, the self-report responses were 100% in agreement with some of the observations held in the homes of 32 families, while in general the Authors concluded that self-report methodologies can confidently be used in instances where observation may not be feasible. The Authors note that knowing that a home visit would be occurring may have encouraged participants to more accurately report items in the self-administered survey; however, interestingly the Authors also noted that over-reporting of safe practice was demonstrated in approximately half of the items, while under-reporting occurred for one-third of items, suggesting that self-report biases are a complex phenomenon indeed.

Choosing a data collection method can require consideration of multiple factors including strengths and limitations associated with each approach, and validation studies can help us understand the potential magnitude of some of these strengths and limitations.

Friday 29 May in Australia is Fatality Free Friday

28 May, 15 | by Bridie Scott-Parker

Tomorrow, Friday 29 May, is Fatality Free Friday down under. As noted on the website,

Road safety is a complex issue but we believe that if drivers consciously think about road safety and safe driving for just one Friday in the year, that day’s toll – statistically about 5.3 deaths – could be reduced to zero.

That’s our aim. Not a single road death in Australia for just one day. Just one Fatality Free Friday.

We believe that if drivers are asked to actively concentrate on road safety and safe driving for just one day in the year, they’ll drive safer for the next few days too and, over time, change their outlook completely, consciously thinking about safety each and every day they get behind the wheel.

Various events have been underway throughout Australia this week, promoting Fatality Free Friday tomorrow. I am delighted to be coordinating the Fatality Free Friday event for the Sunshine Coast region at the University of the Sunshine Coast, and I look forward to welcoming road safety partners Transport and Main Roads, Queensland Police, the Sunshine Coast Council, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, and Rotary, as we engage with our community so that we may all be safer on the roads.

Visitors will have the opportunity to take the pledge to be safer drivers, signing an inflatable car; learn firsthand vehicle features which can help prevent a crash, and protect you in the event of a crash, from vehicle inspectors; engage with police officers who will be attending with a police vehicle and a police motorbike; access a breadth of road safety resources; see and hear the wake of sadness which follows a crash from a display of thongs representing Sunshine Coast community members killed in road crashes over the past five years and from stories shared by the remaining family members; and learn about efforts being taken to improve young driver road safety in particular by community groups like Rotary and a researcher (me!).

I urge everyone, everywhere, to make every day a Fatality Free Friday for all road users.

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