October 26, 2019
2 min read

Educational intervention improves injury prevention knowledge among medical students

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Photo of Grace Kim
Grace Kim

NEW ORLEANS — An educational intervention focused on injury prevention strategies was effective at training first-year medical students to identify risk factors for injury-related mortality and recognize areas for prevention, according to research presented at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition.

Medical students who participated in the intervention also performed better at these tasks compared with fourth-year medical students, researchers wrote.

According to Grace Kim, MD, MHS, a faculty member in the division of hospital medicine in the department of pediatrics at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, injury prevention is not consistently taught in medical schools or included in all curricula.

“This is problematic given that unintentional injuries are the No. 1 cause of death among those aged 1 to 44 years and also among the leading causes of mortality for other ages as well,” Kim told Infectious Diseases in Children. “The majority of injuries are preventable, and medical students should be trained on injury prevention.”

Kim and colleagues noted that the Association of American Medical Colleges supports the inclusion of injury prevention in medical education.

The researchers included first-year medical students who volunteered to attend a 30-minute interactive presentation on injuries and basic injury prevention principles. They compared the intervention with a control group, which was asked to conduct its own study session on this content.

Both first-year and fourth-year medical students then completed surveys about their knowledge of injury prevention and their attitudes about it.

Although fourth-year students were not formally trained in injury prevention during their education, the researchers suggested that many may have gained knowledge about the topic through other experiences during medical school.

However, of the 26 first-year and 129 fourth-year medical students included in the study, those in the first year better recognized injuries as a leading cause of mortality for several age groups. Those in the first-year group also correctly answered at least two of three questions about basic risk factors for injury-related mortality compared with the control group and fourth-year medical students (100% vs. 92.3% vs. 67.4%; P = .0065).

During the researchers’ assessment of medical students’ knowledge of injury prevention, they presented everyone with a case scenario and asked them to identify five areas for injury prevention with the Haddon Matrix — a paradigm of injury prevention focused on personal factors, vector or agent factors and environmental exposures. Most students in the first-year group (84.6%) correctly identified at least three of the five areas, whereas less than half in the control group (46.2%) identified these factors. Only 18.6% of fourth-year medical students identified at least three areas (P = .001).


“Nearly all medical students in our study recognized that injuries represent a serious problem and agreed that injury prevention topics should be taught in medical school,” Kim said.

The researchers noted that along with 92.3% of first-year students in the intervention group reporting that they would recommend the session to their classmates, 92.3% reported that it was an effective way to learn about injury prevention (P = .001).

“We propose that fundamental injury prevention concepts should be introduced early in medical school so that students can build upon their understanding and apply these concepts during their clinical rotations,” Kim said. – by Katherine Bortz


Kim G, et al. Education of medical students about injury prevention: to teach or not to teach? Presented at: AAP National Conference & Exhibition; Oct. 25-29, 2019; New Orleans.

Disclosure: Kim reports no relevant financial disclosures.