The Burden of Injury and Violence
Injuries and violence are significant public health problems limiting the ability of Americans to live to their full potential. Injuries and violence cause premature death and disability and place a substantial burden on Americans. More than 243,000 people die due to injuries and violence each year. Millions more are injured and survive, only to cope with lifelong disabilities. Each year, nearly 28 million people are treated for injuries in U.S. emergency departments due to injuries and violence.
Preventing Injury and Violence
Like diseases, injuries are preventable—they do not occur at random. The Wyoming Department of Health uses the same scientific methods to prevent injuries that are used to prevent disease: carefully describing the problem through surveillance, studying factors that increase or decrease the risk for injury, evaluating intervention strategies that target these risk factors, and taking steps to ensure that evidence-based strategies are implemented in communities across Wyoming.
Injuries and violence prevention strategies focus primarily on environmental design, human behavior, education, and legislative and regulatory requirements that support environmental and behavioral change.
Prevention is exceptionally cost-effective, and it is imperative innovative and effective injury and violence prevention programs are in place to prevent premature deaths throughout the U.S., particularly among vulnerable populations of children, young families, and older adults.
Define the Problem
Before addressing an injury problem, we need to know how big the problem is, where it is, and whom it affects. This is accomplished by gathering and analyzing data processes often called “surveillance.” These data can show us how an injury problem changes over time, alert us to troubling trends in a particular type of injury, and let us know what impact prevention programs have.
Identify Risk and Protective Factors
It is not enough to know that a particular type of injury affects a specific group of people in a specific area. We also need to understand why. What factors put people at risk for that injury? And conversely, what factors protect people from it? Once we have that information, we can determine which evidence-based programs would work best to eliminate or reduce risk factors for injuries and to capitalize on or increase factors that protect people from being injured. There are various evidence-based programs; however, it is essential not only to identify a program but one that will work in that specific community.
Implementation and Evaluation of Prevention Strategies
We implement evidence-based prevention strategies in communities that are experiencing a problem. We then study the effects of these programs to determine whether and how well they’re working. We use this information to identify any elements that may need to change to eliminate difficulties or increase effectiveness.
Assure Widespread Adoption
It is not enough to identify a strategy if there are no supports for sustainability in place. Facilitating or hosting trainings, providing technical assistance, leading workgroups and state coalitions are a few ways we support programs in communities across Wyoming.