Carol Runyan Wins First Home Safety Research Award

June 21, 2006
Photograph of Carol Runyan, PhD

Photograph of Carol Runyan, PhD

Professor Carol Runyan (HBHE PhD 1983), director of the Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC) since 1989 and a faculty member in Health Behavior and Health Education since 1986, received the Home Safety Council’s inaugural Home Safety Research Award in June 2006. The Council on Home Safety is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping prevent unintentional injuries in the home. The Award recognized Carol for her outstanding collaborative work with the Council over the past five years.

For the Council, Carol, with colleagues at IPRC, developed two watershed reports (2002, 2004) documenting the extent of unintentional injuries in the home and societal costs of those injuries. The reports also examine ways people can improve home safety, both by modifying their home environments and by changing their behaviors.

As Carol noted, research about home-related injuries is in its beginning stages. “As a first step,” she said, “we need to be working toward better data systems.” Carol’s report recommended that multiple organizations concerned with injury prevention – CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the National Association of Injury Control Research Centers, the National Center for Health Statistics, and others – should start working together to achieve this goal.

“Once we have good data in hand,” Carol said, “we can start developing the kinds of multi-pronged approaches needed to work on preventing these injuries.” Such approaches would include improving the design and construction of both homes and of the consumer products used in the home environment (e.g., use of sprinkler systems); improving regulatory standards for home design (e.g., stairway design); and developing strategies that would help people adopt safer behaviors in the home (e.g., poison and firearm storage).

“Injuries in the home have gone under the radar for too long,” said Carol. “But with this report and other, related, endeavors, we can start getting the word out about how important this issue is. Ideally, home safety would be as much a part of the public’s awareness as cancer and heart disease prevention.”

Six publications resulting from Carol’s research have appeared recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2005), some co-authored with Department graduates, including Renee Johnson (PhD 2005) and Jingzhen Yang (PhD 2004) as well as with HBHE lecturers, Drs. Anna Waller and Tamera Coyne-Beasley.

To read the executive summary of the most recent State of Home Safety in America document, co-authored with Epidemiology faculty member, Dr. Carri Casteel, go to http://www.homesafetycouncil.org/state_of_home_safety/sohs_summary_w001.aspx.

 

For further information please contact Catherine Vorick either by phone at 919-966-3918 or by e-mail at cvorick@email.unc.edu.