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Study shows power of police and fire officers as injury-prevention messengers
Date:5/1/2008

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Nearly every night, on nearly every TV station in the country, the local newscast features news of the days car crashes, fires and other injury-causing events.

But a new study finds that those stories often miss the boat when it comes to helping viewers understand what steps they could take to prevent injuries if the same thing happens to their own families or to reduce their risk of having such an event at all.

The study also points to a bright spot in local TV news coverage: If a story includes an interview with a police officer or fire department official, viewers are more than twice as likely to hear prevention information that could help them and their families.

The new study, published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is based on an exhaustive analysis of one months worth of late-evening TV newscasts from 122 stations in the nations top 50 television markets. It was led by an emergency medicine physician from the University of Michigan Health System, in cooperation with colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

In the end, if police and firefighters appeared on camera, it meant more prevention messages for the public, says James Pribble, M.D., the studys lead author. This suggests that we have a very powerful opportunity to train these public service professionals to be ready to give interviews on the spot, often on the scene, to give the public prevention tips and information about current public policy issues in injury prevention and safety.

The study analyzed 2,795 newscasts, 1,748 of which covered a specific incident in which a person or people were injured by a motor vehicle accident, a fire, a fall, a drowning, an accidental poisoning or a recreational or sporting mishap. The vast majority 84 percent of the stories involved vehicle crashes or fires.

Only 245 of the stories featured an inte
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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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