Does Scientific Evidence Support a Ban on Using the Word “Accident”?

Deborah C. Girasek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

This report summarizes scientific literature relevant to the controversy regarding use of the word, “accident” in the injury prevention arena. The author has contributed to, and followed this issue for decades. She summarizes eleven studies conducted in seven countries, from 1979 to 2012. They found that a majority of respondents (Range: 56-89%) perceived injury-producing events to be preventable, despite the fact that the word “accident” was used in their assessments. Two studies interchanged the words “accident” and “injury,” but found that substitution yielded no difference in respondents’ perceptions of preventability. The author concludes that safety advocate concerns about the word “accident” are based more upon conviction than evidence. She raises potential harms that might be brought about by continuing this debate, and proposes an alternative communication effort that may have more potential to reduce the devastating toll of injuries in our world.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • accident
  • advocacy
  • evidence
  • injury prevention

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