An injury can pose a direct threat to a person’s health. This threat may come in the form of death, disability, and financial burden. Society is impacted by the financial burden from medical expenses, police and fire services, property damage and lost wages.
Injury prevention, a priority in Healthy People 2020, also remains a key focus for many organizations. SOPHE takes a comprehensive approach to combine policies, environmental change and health education to prevent injuries.
Injuries are not accidents — they are not random incidents. Injuries have identified risk and protective factors making them preventable.
Like disease, injuries follow a pattern. Studying these patterns makes it possible to learn to predict and prevent injuries.
Injuries are the leading cause of death among people ages 1-44.
- motor vehicle crashes
Unintentional injury prevention is addressed through environmental and product changes or policy implementation.
For every environmental, technological, or policy-related advance, there is a behavioral component.
Health education is essential for effectively communicating policy updates, encouraging behavior change and raising awareness about emerging issues.
There are laws requiring children to wear bike helmets. Health education helps children and parents know the right way to wear bike helmets and understand the value of wearing a helmet.
Similar strategies could be used for product updates — child safety seats. Laws require parents to use child safety and booster seats. Health education helps parents know the seat they need, how to correctly install child safety seats, and the dangers of placing children in the front seat of a car.
Intentional injury can cause physical and psychological damage to individuals and communities. It’s necessary to incorporate health education and behavior change as part of a comprehensive strategy.
While there are school rules against bullying and fighting, teaching children how to emotionally deal with social situations or having parents model non-aggressive behaviors will further address the problem.
Providing skills training for problem solving, conflict resolution and non-violent handling of disputes offers a protective factor for those at risk of suicide.
Behavior change does not just transpire at the individual level.
It address all social levels — as an ecological approach.
Behavioral interventions present a great opportunity to encourage community engagement and promote change. By involving community members throughout the process, the priorities of the community and program staff can be equitably met.
Behavior programs should:
- Be comprehensive in their approach
- Encourage participation at all levels – individual, interpersonal, community, etc.
- Incorporate health education and behavior change
- Include product and environmental change
- Include policy change and implementation
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