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Interventions

After completing the first and second stages of the Approach, you would have identified the injury issue that needs attention, learnt about what is influencing its prevalence and are now ready to develop an intervention to address the issue. Interventions is the third stage of the Public Health Approach to Injury Prevention and involves assessing what can be done about the issue. An intervention is a combination of activities designed to change behavioural, environmental and/or social determinants to improve the health status of individuals or populations.

Crucial to the development of an intervention is;

  1. Defining the target audience.
  2. Determining the purpose of the initiative.
  3. Determining what interventions could be developed to achieve your purpose.

Defining the interventions target audience

A clearly defined target audience is essential to giving the intervention scope and for measuring its success. Interventions can be universal, targeted or individualised, however different population groups experience different risks of injury so it is important to consider what target audience would benefit the most from the intervention and would result in the greatest return on investment. Key variables that may be useful to describe your target audience include;

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Aboriginal status
  • Geographical location
  • Country of birth / language spoken at home
  • Core attitudes / behaviours
  • Preparedness to change / engage in a prevention activity

Depending on the scope of the injury topic that you are targeting, it may be beneficial to identify a primary and secondary target audience. The primary target audience are those that you are trying to have the greatest influence on, while the secondary target audience have the ability to reach the primary target audience or influence the injury issue’s prevalence.

What is the purpose of the intervention?

Establishing a clear purpose is essential to identifying what intervention is going to have the greatest impact and informing how the intervention is measured. Writing specific and measurable aims and objectives are key.

An aim is a statement about the interventions long-term goal or purpose. Common changes that an aim is trying to influence include mortality or morbidity rates, disability or quality of life.   

Objectives support the achievement of the aim as they are the shorter-term changes that the intervention is trying to address. Using the formula “to do what, for whom, by when” can assist in creating objectives as they primarily address the determinants that contribute to the prevalence of the injury. It is vital that the objectives also follow the SMART formula;

Specific – Does it state clearly what you are doing, for whom and by when?

Measurable – Does it include a feature that will let you know whether or not it has been successful?

Attainable – Can it be realistically achieved with your current resources?

Relevant – Does it logically relate to your overarching goal?

Time-specific – Does it have a timeframe in which the change will occur?

Intervention components and types

The intervention/s are the activities that will be undertaken to achieve an objective. A comprehensive injury prevention initiative will require a mix of interventions at multiple levels (from the individual through to populations).

In working towards your aim, your prevention intervention will generally aim to reduce the likelihood that something harmful will occur and/or to minimise the harm if it does occur. These prevention interventions occur will align to one of the three stages of the injury continuum, as displayed below.

Pre-injurious eventInjurious eventPost-injurious event
Target audiencePopulations which are safe or not injuredPopulations at-risk or vulnerable or recently injuredPopulation who have been injured and are recovering
Level of preventionPrimary preventionSecondary preventionTertiary prevention
Other terminologySafety promotion
Injury prevention
Injury prevention
First response and initial treatment
Injury management
Rehabilitation
Post-injury support
Figure 1: Injury Continuum

In addition to considering what point along the continuum your intervention aligns, there are a number of factors to consider and frameworks that can help you identify which type of intervention/s will be most effective towards achieving your aim, including;

Developing the intervention

Once you have established your aim, objectives and what type of intervention you want to develop, the next step is to determine exactly what intervention you want to develop. This can be informed by; learning from the research and experiences of others and using theories and models to design your intervention.

To ensure you don’t reinvent the wheel, it is good to explore what others have done before and see if you are able to apply their learnings to your circumstances. Opportunities for exploration, include; literature, evidence, reports, expert opinion, stakeholder consultation and consumer engagement.

Theories and models are also useful when designing and planning interventions. Some common models or theories which may be useful to inform your initiative, include;

Key determinants tools

Find out more

The Know Injury program is provided by Injury Matters and funded by the WA Department of Health.