Public health strategies have been used for years to effectively fight disease. These same strategies can also be applied to injury prevention. The public health approach to disease or injury involves data collection and risk factor identification, facilitating multi-disciplinary groups/coalitions to address the problem, developing interventions using proven "best practices," evaluating the programs, and replicating proven programs.
While public health has traditionally concentrated on educational approaches, injury concerns call for a combination of education, enforcement and engineering. As an example, for childhood falls this means education to parents and other target groups; development and enforcement of laws and policies related to helmet use, other safety equipment/products and environmental conditions in homes and schools; and the application of engineering solutions such as safer playgrounds, recreational equipment and home products (baby walkers).
For all injury prevention topics it is generally recognized that single strategies do not work. Also, it is not enough to just provide education that focuses on increasing the knowledge of the population. It is important to move to the next step of developing prevention skills and addressing behavior factors that are a barrier to injury prevention. Prevention strategies and programs are starting to use effective evaluation to determine what techniques work. A few general principles of injury prevention are:
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