What do we use as an indicator of intervention success?

Earlier this week I commented on the insight into research deficits which can be highlighted in reviews of the extant literature. In particular, I commented on the need for consistent and complete data collection which is suitable for a variety of research purposes and which ultimately can inform the development and refinement of policy and practice.

Relevant to this issue is the choice of an indicator of intervention success. The injury prevention literature abounds with a variety of key improvement indicators, and there are considerable implications for the indicator of choice. Is the merit, and therefore success, of interventions such as graduated driver licensing (GDL) best measured by a reduction in fatal crashes? Injury crashes? What about offences? Such diverse indicators were also pointed out in a recent Injury Prevention paper by Zhu, Cummings, Chu, Coben, and Li in which the crash-reductions associated with GDL were examined separately for 16 -, 17-, and 18- year old drivers (see link below).

Moreover, we are interested in injury prevention, therefore a reliance upon the use of fatalities as an indicator, rather than injuries (which can incorporate fatal injuries), merits reconsideration. Again that may require Researcher advocacy within a political climate which is preoccupied with fatalities, but which is at great risk of misunderstanding the bigger picture.


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