Do As We Say, Not As We Do

7 October 2013

A new study by Dr. Mariana Brussoni's Injury Research Program at BC Children's Hospital has found that injury prevention professionals are up to 70 per cent more likely to be injured than average Canadians. PhD student Allison Ezzat, the study's lead author, explains the paradoxical finding in a guest blog post.

Noticing that many of our colleagues appeared to be getting injured, we undertook this cross-sectional study to examine injury risk in injury prevention professionals in Canada compared to other Canadians with similar demographics from the Canadian Community Health Survey 2009/10.

Despite our training, we had a hunch that our profession might be more prone to injury. This is contradictory to theories, such as the Theory of Planned Behaviour, that would suggest having knowledge about how to prevent injuries and being surrounded by people who value injury prevention would lead to being safer. Indeed, 85 per cent of the people who responded to our survey believed that they had become more careful since working in the injury prevention field.

However, when compared with Canadians of similar age, educational background, and employment status, injury prevention professionals were found to be at almost 70 per cent greater risk of injury.

We did additional analyses comparing to Canadian women classified as active, because of the high proportion of women in our sample of injury prevention professionals, as well as to control for physical activity exposure.  Still, we still found that injury prevention professionals were at 50 per cent greater risk of injury.  

Until we do more research, we don’t really know why this group of professionals appears to be at increased risk, but we have a few ideas.

Possibly the education and training injury prevention professional receive is so broad that they have trouble applying it in their own everyday lives. Or we wonder whether risk compensation may apply. That is, injury prevention professionals might be over-confident in their ability to keep themselves safe and so take less care than other people, resulting in more injuries.

By further understanding the cause of this apparent increased susceptibility to injuries in this subgroup of people, we could develop new injury prevention strategies to apply more broadly.

Allison Ezzat is a physical therapist and PhD Student in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include injury prevention in youth, physical activity promotion, and chronic disease prevention.