Journal Issue: Unintentional Injuries in Childhood Volume 10 Number 1 Spring/Summer 2000
Community-based interventions offer one approach to reducing injuries by changing community norms and behaviors and by altering the physical environment of communities to reduce the risk of injury. The community-based approach may have particular relevance for children, as interventions often target the safety awareness, attitudes, and behaviors of the child and the parents. Gradually, as families engage in safety behaviors or use safety devices more frequently, new norms reflecting the goals of the intervention emerge within a community. The process is similar for youths; however, peer pressure also plays a considerable role in promoting or inhibiting the adoption of safety behaviors within this population. Acceptance of new behaviors by the peer group may be crucial to a program's success.
Although community-based interventions hold promise, there is a paucity of evidence examining the impact of these approaches on safety behaviors or injury rates among children. This article defines community-based interventions and systematically reviews relevant literature to ascertain the effectiveness of such approaches in reducing childhood unintentional injuries (see the article by DiGuiseppi and Roberts in this journal issue for a description of a systematic review). The key characteristics of successful community-based programs are identified by comparing elements of programs that improved safety behaviors or reduced injury rates with elements of programs that failed to impact these outcomes.