Despite the existence of many effective interventions, including those described throughout this handbook, more than 160,000 injury- and violence-related deaths occurred in the United States in 2002 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2005). In addition, in 2003, there were nearly 30 million nonfatal injuries requiring emergency department care (CDC, 2005). Too often, science-based interventions existed to prevent these injuries and deaths, but they were not available or were not used by providers and consumers.
This situation is equivalent to developing a life-saving medication but not telling physicians or patients that it is available, not packaging the product for public use, not having skilled pharmacists to dispense the medication, and not providing guidance about the management of its effects. This gap between research and practice, and between discovery and delivery, is large and continues to impede our progress in preventing and controlling injuries and violence (Sleet, Hopkins, & Olson, 2003).
For example, we know that the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms save lives, yet about half of the injuries from residential fi res occur in homes where there are no smoke alarms (Ahrens, 2004). Furthermore, where smoke alarms are installed in homes, 20% are not functional (Smith, 1994). (See more on fi res in Chapter 6.) To save more lives, consumers and providers need information about effective interventions, but more important, they need support for adopting, using, and maintaining interventions over time. For maximum impact, effective interventions require widespread, sustained use.