Catalyzing State Public Health Agency Actions to Prevent Injuries and Violence: Introductory Remarks

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The mission of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (CDC's Injury Center) is “to prevent injuries and violence through science and action.”1 In this context, science and action are not separate and discrete components of the Injury Center's activity but integrated elements of the Injury Center's work. Recognizing that integration of science and action is a vital prerequisite to it accomplishing its mission, the Injury Center established a division with the express mandate to develop the methods and practices that support a unified approach to injury prevention. The Division of Analysis, Research and Practice Integration (DARPI) was established in 2013; over the subsequent 4 years, we have worked with our partners to develop the concepts and methods of an integrated approach.2 The effectiveness of this approach is already being demonstrated in a range of projects, programs, and population-level change activities across the Injury Center and our various partner organizations, many of which are described in this issue of the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. In this issue, the concepts, methods, and practices of this integrated approach are described, and case study illustrations are provided demonstrating how the Injury Center works with partners to support progress toward a society safe and free from injury and violence. We believe the model presented in this special issue, as described in Smith and Wilkins,3 has substantial implications for the injury prevention community and could be considered for widespread uptake by public health departments and their practice and research partners. Specifically, Smith and Wilkins3 describe the concepts of scholar-practitioner and practice-based research, with a focus on a type of participatory, practice-based research—action research—that is complementary to a scholar-practitioner model.
The Injury Center had already established relationships with (i) communities of researchers and practitioners using the Injury Center's national injury surveillance data (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System [WISQARS]); (ii) state health departments through a variety of programs including the Core Violence and Injury Prevention Program (Core VIPP), the Rape Prevention and Education Program, Essentials for Childhood Initiative, the Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancements and Leadership Through Alliances, Focusing on Outcomes for Communities United with States (DELTA FOCUS); and (iii) academic research institutions through the Injury Control Research Centers (ICRCs). In fostering these relationships, DARPI specifically strengthened the network links between all sectors by being intentional in the collaboration with the Core VIPP and ICRC partners and showed what could be achieved from enhancing bidirectional relationship between science and action.4
A common goal was important to bring people together from across the spectrum of data, research, and practice, so each could see that despite differences in perspectives, everyone was really working to achieve the same ultimate goal—to reduce injury morbidity and mortality. Again, DARPI is poised to bring these pieces together not only through the practice and research partners mentioned earlier but also by the internal connections made with data and statistical expertise that is contained within the DARPI infrastructure. These supports include the WISQARS.
While reducing population-level morbidity and mortality is the ultimate goal, prevention is achieved not only by addressing outcomes but also by understanding the cause of these outcomes and changing causal factors to reduce the incidence of the consequent injury. Through the lessons learned from Core VIPP as described in Nesbit et al,5 DARPI shifted the discussion about injury causation away from proximal risk factor epidemiology and more toward a multilevel emphasis that recognized implementation complexity.
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