State Injury & Violence Prevention (IVP) Programs
State injury and violence prevention programs have achieved impressive results with limited resources, as the public health approach allows practitioners to extend the benefits of prevention not just to individuals, but to entire communities and populations.
Core Components of a State IVP Program
Defined by the Safe States Alliance through our most recent update in Building Safer States: Core Components of State Injury & Violence Prevention Programs, 2013 Edition†, there are six core components that are essential, foundational elements describing IVP program capacity. They include:
Core Component #1: Build and Sustain a Solid, Stable Infrastructure
Whether a state IVP program is small or large, relatively new or well-established, it requires:
A stable and supportive organizational home — typically, a state health department;
Core staff that includes a director, an injury epidemiologist, and program staff capable of wearing many hats, including program planning and implementation, evaluation, partnership and coalition building, policy work, training and technical assistance, and communications;
Leaders who can identify and make the most of complex challenges and opportunities despite an atmosphere of lean resources and support;
Planning capacity and visibility that gives injury and violence prevention programs a place at the table when funding and other decisions are made; and
Funding drawn from multiple sources and commensurate with the size of the problem.
Core Component #2: Collect, Analyze, and Disseminate Injury and Violence Data
The very foundation of public health decision-making is data. Like other public health entities, state IVP programs have always been data driven. The wide range of injury types and risk factors means that multiple data sources are required to develop a comprehensive and accurate picture of injury and violence trends.
Core Component #3: Select, Implement, and Evaluate Effective Program and Policy Strategies
Almost any IVP intervention reflects the idea that rates of injuries and violence yield to a combination of strategies geared to education and individual behavior change, as well as policies which aim to change environments, influence population-level behavior change, and make safer choices easier and more routine. Whether an intervention veers more toward the programmatic or the policy realm — or straddles both — it should: have evidence behind it, fit with desired outcomes and community characteristics; consider both risk and protective factors (factors that are associated with negative or positive health outcomes); and be evaluated to determine if it worked as intended.
Core Component #4: Engage Partners for Collaboration
The scope of injury topics and functions is so broad that no state program — no matter how large or well established — can or should successfully tackle them alone. State IVP programs find that collaboration and coordination with partners is essential to amplify their work and achieve health impact. Often collaboration occurs through one-on-one partnerships; however, state IVP programs also play an important convening role, and bring multiple partners together to work on a range of injury and violence prevention issues. Partnership activities can include: sharing data, involving partners in program planning, exchanging funds, collaborating on policy, or exchanging training and technical assistance. Often, partnerships yield general support for shared initiatives, but they become increasingly meaningful when resources — data, funding, training and staff — are shared or exchanged.
Core Component #5: Effectively Communicate Information to Key Stakeholders
Translating the implications and nuances of injury and violence prevention data into action is a stubbornly tough sell. As IVP programs become more and more lean and are forced to function with fewer full-time equivalents (FTEs)†† for core functions such as epidemiology and evaluation, it is understandable that these programs may lack other skills, such as communications expertise. Nevertheless, communication skills – from using infographics to conducting media advocacy – are essential to effectively reach key audiences, including policy makers, partners, and the public.
Core Component #6: Training and Technical Assistance
State IVP programs face a dual training and technical assistance challenge: keeping their own skills and knowledge current, while also sharing their expertise with partners and other stakeholders (such as colleagues in local health departments, fire departments, hospitals, and other community settings). State IVP programs should identify or provide trainings and technical assistance for their staff and partners founded on the Core Competencies for Injury and Violence Prevention.
†Building Safer States: Core Components of State Injury & Violence Prevention Programs, 2013 Edition
††Full-time equivalents (FTEs): The total number of hours worked by an individual employee divided by the total number of work hours in a full-time scheduled (defined as 40 hours per week).