Global Injury Class Publishes Article in PLoS One

January 18, 2016

Many Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) graduate students preparing to begin their careers recently reached an academic milestone when their article on global injury was published in the open-access journal PLoS One. The manuscript was the product of a class assignment for Global Injury and Prevention, a graduate-level course taught by Catherine Staton, assistant professor of global health and emergency medicine.

The article, “Road Traffic Injury Prevention Initiatives: A Systematic Review and Meta-summary of Effectiveness in Low and Middle Income Countries,” was a combined effort of faculty and students. (NOTE: A full list of student authors can be found at the end of this article.)

Prospect of Publication Drew Students to the Course

The class developed the inclusion and exclusion criteria together based on the goals of the paper and objectives of the class. With the help of librarian Megan Von Isenburg, they searched the literature and reviewed the manuscripts in pairs according to the systematic review methods. The class also conducted the data extraction and wrote all sections of the manuscript with guidance from course faculty. 

The goal was to compile all published interventions that have taken place to gain an understanding of which prevention methods have been most effective and where more research is needed.

The potential to contribute to a publication is what drew some students, like second-year Master of Science in Global Health (MSc-GH) student Brittany Zick, to the class. “I hadn’t thought much about injury as an emergent global health issue, but due to my thesis work on the related topic of surgical care—as well as the potential for publication—I thought it would be a good class to explore,” Zick said. “And it ended up being the most eye-opening course I’ve taken thus far.” 

Findings Underscore Dearth of Injury Data in LMICs 

Out of the 8,560 reviewed articles, the class found only 18 studies from 11 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) that focused on road traffic injury prevention. The small number of articles did not surprise the students, who had already been learning about the lack of injury data in LMICs. 

Of the 18 articles, the majority of interventions were legislation-based, and the best outcomes emerged when legislation was combined with strong enforcement initiatives. The authors called for further prevention interventions in LMICs with patient-centered outcomes, which could help increase the evidence base for injury prevention.

Students Found Process Challenging but Rewarding

Despite the students’ strong interest in the topic, the editing and submission process were not without challenges. “The hardest part about the systematic review was how long it took. It was a tedious process, and we had to keep working on it even after the class was over,” said recent MSc-GH graduate Nicole Toomey. “A big challenge was keeping in contact with each other from our field sites over the summer, but we had all invested so much time that everyone was really committed to getting it published and doing it well.”  

In the end, all the work paid off. “The students did a wonderful job,” said Staton, the course instructor and lead author. “The amount of reading and writing required for a systematic review is extensive—but the students worked very hard and deserve this publication in a great open source journal.”  Staton says that the course faculty are already looking forward to the next Global Injury Control and Prevention course, where they will we will repeat this endeavor with another student cohort.

This manuscript is the first of two systematic reviews by this class. The second paper, on cost-benefit analysis, is still in process and will be submitted for publication this year.

Read the article.

Authors include the following students and alumni:


  • Jihad Abdelgadir
  • Nicole Jadue
  • Camille Ratliff
  • Nanjala Wafula
  • Brittany Zick

Alumni (graduated in 2015):

  • Enying Gong
  • Chen Liu
  • Fengdi Pei
  • Claire Rotich
  • Nicole Toomey
  • Yi Zhou

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Typical road traffic in Moshi, Tanzania

The students worked very hard and deserve this publication in a great open source journal.

Catherine Staton, assistant professor of global health and emergency medicine

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