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Collaboration Between Health Systems and Law Enforcement May be Key for Injury Surveillance, Control and Prevention

Injury remains one of the top 10 causes of death and disability worldwide. Partnerships between health systems and law enforcement can enable linkages in injury data to better identify where and to whom injuries are occurring. This cross-sector surveillance can also lead to more effective and expansive injury control and prevention efforts to improve population health.

Until now, there has not been a comprehensive review of how collaboration between health and law enforcement systems impact injury prevention at a local and regional level. A research review that was recently published in the journal Injury Prevention explored 25 years of evidence on joint law enforcement and health system injury surveillance and response.  Authors found that the combination of health system and law enforcement injury data added value to surveillance systems, especially as health system data were augmented by law enforcement data.

The Cardiff Model for Violence Prevention developed in Cardiff, Wales is highlighted as a stand-out example of effective health system and law enforcement partnership to prevent violence.  Although other health system and law enforcement partnerships have been developed to improve injury control and prevention, further evidence is needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of these partnerships and sustained impact over time.

“With  evidence, collaborative health system and law enforcement programs, implemented worldwide, have the potential to build better injury surveillance data and create effective cross-sectoral opportunities to improve public health,” said co-lead author Sara F. Jacoby, PhD, MPH, MSN, Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Health, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing).

Authors highlight that current evidence is focused on urban areas in the US, UK and Australia. The process and benefit of health system and law enforcement collaboration warrant further study in communities and settings where partnerships can strengthen the capacity for injury response by leveraging each sector’s strength and capacity.

This review was a joint effort between the Penn Injury Science Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered by the CDC Foundation. Laura M. Mercer Kollar, PhD, from the Center for Disease and Prevention, Division of Violence Prevention is the review’s co-lead author. Co-authors include: Steven A. Sumer, MD, MSc, of the Division of Violence Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; and Greg Ridgeway, PhD, Department of Criminology, University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences.