Violence and Injury Curricula Still Inadequate in Public Health Schools and Programs

A Call to Action

Carol W. Runyan, PhD, MPH; Kathleen F. Carlson, PhD, MS; Susan DeFrancesco, JD, MPH; Renee M. Johnson, PhD, MPH

Disclosures

Am J Public Health. 2022;112(10):1385-1388. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Introduction

Unintentional injury (e.g., poisonings or overdoses, motor vehicle crashes, fires, falls, sports injuries, occupational injuries) and violence (e.g., suicide, homicide, child maltreatment, partner violence) have long been among the leading causes of death in the United States and around the globe (https://bit.ly/3PiAjHw; https://bit.ly/3JRUtY0). As with any health issue, injury prevention hinges on whether public health professionals recognize the importance of these problems and have the capability to respond effectively. Ensuring that there are opportunities to learn about injury and violence in schools and programs of public health is critical, but training opportunities are woefully inadequate. We urge immediate action to expand public health training addressing injury and violence.

Until the 1979 Healthy People: The Surgeon General's Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, injury and violence issues were not consistently recognized in the domain of public health.[1] Attention accelerated after 1985, when the Institute of Medicine published Injury in America: A Continuing Public Health Problem, which called for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide leadership.[2]

As a result, the CDC developed an initial injury program, funded five injury control research centers in 1987, and created the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) in 1992.[3] Injury control research centers are required to have training components and have made progress in preparing both researchers and practitioners, although funding has never been adequate or proportional to the size of the problem. As of 2022, the NCIPC budget is a mere $715 million, with only $9 million devoted to nine injury control research centers.[4] The CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), with a budget of less than $352 million, supports 11 agricultural safety and health centers, 18 education and research centers, and 10 total worker health centers.[4] In stark contrast, the CDCs National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has a $1.3 billion budget that includes nearly $27 million for 26 university-based prevention research centers focused on chronic disease, having grown from the original three centers funded in 1986.[4,5]

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