From research to public policy: The prevention of motor vehicle injuries, childhood drownings, and firearm violence

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Purpose. The purpose of this article is to review the development of the modern sciences of injury epidemiology and injury prevention and to illustrate the use of applied research in formulating effective public policy. Search Methods. MEDLINE searches were conducted from 1966 to 1990, and bibliographies of articles thus obtained were reviewed. Fugitive sources were identified by multiple means. Major Findings. Motor vehicle fatality rates on a per mile driven basis have been reduced by 50% over the past 25 years, largely through attention to the road environment and design of motor vehicles. Passive restraint systems such as air bags promise further reductions. Drowning has emerged as a leading cause of death among young children. Complete pool fencing is expected to prevent many of these events. Firearm violence, particularly among young people, is rapidly increasing. Firearms are hazardous consumer products but are not addressed as such by our current regulatory structure and intervention agenda. Conclusions. Epidemiologic and other applied research can make important contributions to the development of public policies designed to prevent injury. Such policies often address the design and performance of hazardous products and environments and consider individual behavior change as only a secondary objective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-464
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1992


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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