Computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) is a methodology increasingly utilised in the public health arena both in Australia and internationally. The CATI Technical Reference Group, in collaboration with other key organisations, is currently developing a national pool of question modules addressing a wide range of public health topics. These surveillance system modules include such topics as asthma, diabetes, physical activity, and nutrition. This paper contributes to the development of a module addressing injury.
Current Australian injury surveillance systems provide a comprehensive analysis of serious injury incidence and demographics. However, national, standardised data concerning injuries of low severity and, more importantly, the risk factors (behaviours, knowledge and attitudes) contributing to injury are conspicuously lacking. While a CATI surveillance system could be used to monitor minor injury incidence, it is uniquely able to provide information on risk factors and knowledge and attitudes regarding injury, which is likely to assist in preventing injury of many types. The CATI methodology is ideally suited to the surveillance of the population's knowledge and attitudes regarding injury and as such can place injury within a social context which can then be used in the planning and enhancement of injury prevention programs (Butchart et al, 2000).
Current and emerging injury prevention policy frameworks should guide specific selection of topics and the framing of CATI survey questions. Some questions should remain unchanged for a long period to enable time series to be accumulated. However, other items can be expected to change or to be replaced. One reason for this is that information requirements at an early stage of response to an issue (e.g. priority setting) tend to differ from requirements at later stages (e.g. monitoring the reach of an intervention). As such, it is envisaged that the development of the CATI injury module will be an iterative process.
An initial set of questions has been developed in conjunction with the Public Health Information Development Unit at the University of Adelaide. The items in the initial CATI injury module address specific national injury prevention priorities as well as more general beliefs, attitudes and behaviours regarding injury prevention. Specifically, the five topics suggested for the cognitive testing phase of module development are; falls in the elderly, general attitudes regarding safety and injury, safety practices in the home, injury preventability beliefs, and alcohol and injury.