resources, energy, and expertise to contribute to injury prevention efforts. To increase the impact and reach of injury prevention programs and to maximize the expertise and resources available, injury prevention and safety professionals have to expand collaborative activities and work together to develop and support state and community coalitions.
Partnerships are needed within the different divisions of the state health department as well as with other state and local agencies (e.g., highway safety, criminal justice, fire services, education, law enforcement, emergency medical services). The advantages of multiagency collaboration include gaining access to a wider population, combining different approaches and expertise, sharing data relevant to injury, and better use of resources.
Currently formalized linkages across agencies are often discouraged because of grant restrictions and competition for state dollars, and it has been easier to develop and implement separate categorical funding programs. However, efforts are being made to enhance collaborative efforts. Several states have injury prevention task forces or interagency coalitions; for example, the Illinois Injury Control Work Group brings together more than 40 members representing every office in the state health agency, as well as other state agencies and nonprofit organizations; Vermont has a multidisciplinary team working on unintentional injury and occupational health as part of its Healthy Vermonters 2000 program; and Virginia has a statewide coalition on children's safety.
To foster multidisciplinary collaboration between state highway safety and public health professionals around traffic safety issues, NHTSA funded an assessment of the traffic safety activities of state highway safety offices and public health departments and of their perceptions of one another's activities (EDC, 1994). As a result, NHTSA's 10 regional offices are currently sponsoring collaborative programs and training, including regional workshops for state health and highway safety staff.
To encourage intra- and interagency collaboration at the state and local levels, federal agencies can mandate collaborative activities in federal requests for proposals and require joint activities and/or advisory board representation. Data-sharing efforts can be supported by federal and state agencies, especially among hospitals and public health, law enforcement, EMS, criminal justice, and education agencies. Interagency collaboration can be modeled at the federal level by holding joint conferences, creating joint funding streams, and maintaining inter-agency communication. An example is the Lifesavers Conference, a highway safety conference with participants from many fields including traffic safety, transportation, public health, injury prevention, and law enforcement. The conference has multiple funders (including corporations, nonprofit organizations,