The first stage of the Public Health Approach to Injury Prevention is surveillance and is a key step in any injury prevention planning process.
This stage involves the collection, analysis and interpretation of information including data in order to:
- Understand the context,
- Define the priority injury issue(s), and
- Describe the extent to which the selected injury issue is a problem.
Understand the context
Understanding the context involves identifying and describing aspects of the environment that will influence the planning, implementation and evaluation of an injury prevention initiative. Setting injury priorities will be influenced by a range of pressing influencers both internal to an organisation and external, such as;
- Government factors – legislation, priorities and planning frameworks.
- Agency factors – vision, capacity, available funding and partnership factors.
- Community factors – reachability, engagement, access and expectations.
- Evidence factors – magnitude of the issue, available evidence, evaluations and local experience.
- Intervention factors – effectiveness, efficiency, return on investment, direct and indirect costs, likely benefits.
Injuries are diverse; diverse in type, diverse in settings in which they occur and diverse in audiences that they affect. All agencies work within a finite set of resources, which means that we have to make tough decisions as to which injuries areas to focus on (what our priorities are), in order to achieve the best outcomes.
Community consultation, stakeholder consultation and data analysis are key components of priority setting. To guide your priority setting process you may find it helpful to stick to key questions to help your collection of data, such as:
- Severity: How severe is the issue?
- Demographics: Whom does the issue affect? Is any group more at risk than another?
- Setting: Where does the issue affect them?
- Timing: When does the issue affect the community?
- Impact: How does the issue affect the community? How does the community perceive the situation?
Quantitative injury data can be collected from a variety of sources, including;
Injury Matters has local government and health region injury fatality, hospitalisation and emergency department data is available upon request.
The WA Department of Health’s Epidemiology Branch comprehensive WA population health surveillance and monitoring information, health profiles, burden of disease measures and population-based survey results are available. Please refer to their website for further information regarding the charging policy and how to request data.
WA Police have data publicly available regarding the incidence of assault, arson, threatening behaviour and other criminal offences.
Western Australian Road Safety Commission – regularly updated road fatality data is available, alongside annually produced publications.
Peer-reviewed journal articles and grey literature regarding injury prevention are valuable sources of data and are available in a number of journals, including, Injury Prevention Journal, the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Health Promotion Journal of Australia and the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion.
In addition to collating data to understand the incidence of injury, it is important that stakeholder and community consultations occur to find out about; the community’s needs, groups that are affected, the determinants influencing the injuries, the community’s openness to address the injury issue, other activities that have happened in the space before and other stakeholders who are working towards similar goals.
This information can be gathered via a number of formal and informal ways, including those outlined in Table 1.
|Focus groups||Community gathering|
|Clinical records||Stories (written, spoken, pictures)|
More information regarding methods of data collection can be found in the Determinants section of our website.
Once all data has been collated, the magnitude of the problem can be identified by identifying the;
- Severity of the injury (i.e. primarily injuries result in hospitalisation).
- Demographics within the community of who is most affected (i.e. males aged 18-24 are overrepresented in hospitalisation data).
- Settings that are influential (i.e. beaches).
- Geography at heightened risk (i.e. the South West region).
- Frequent timings of the injury (i.e. during the summer holiday period).
- Impact of the injury (i.e. impact on the healthcare system, burden placed on family members)
Key surveillance tools
- SWOT analysis – tool to help gain an understanding of the context of a particular issue in injury prevention and the ability of your organisation to develop interventions in this area.
- PESTLE analysis – supports considering the context within which a specific change is occurring by reflecting on the political, environmental, social, technological, legal and economic factors that are influencing the organisations.
- Know Injury data resources – variety of resources regarding the incidence of injury in WA by Health Region and injury topic.
- Injury Matters’ Guide to promoting safety and preventing injury for local governments – information and support for identifying priority injury topics and effective interventions for addressing injury topics.