Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Epidemiological Research at CIRP

Epidemiology is the study of the incidence, distribution, and causes underlying health conditions, such as injury, in populations. Biostatistics is the application of statistical methods to medical and health-related problems. Together, epidemiological research and biostatistics form the cornerstone of CIRP’s work to identify the nature and magnitude of specific injury problems, along with the risk factors and consequences of injury.

At the Center, investigators in these disciplines conduct research on numerous topics in injury prevention and actively participate in nearly every CIRP initiative. Their efforts have contributed to CIRP research being accepted for publication by top medical journals such as JAMAPediatrics and American Journal of Preventive Medicine. In addition, our research supports the work of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, and other federal and state agencies.

Our epidemiological research focuses on identifying populations that are at particularly high risk for injury and determining individual-level, environmental, and social causes underlying these risks. Identifying these populations is a key first step in improving injury rates. This research informs our Outreach and Advocacy efforts to target audiences that will most benefit from the research.

A key resource the CIRP epidemiology research team has developed is the New Jersey Traffic Safety Outcomes (NJ-TSO) Data Warehouse, which includes the full licensing, citation, and crash history of every New Jersey driver between 2004 and 2014. The dataset also links zip-code level indicators from the Census and electronic health records for 150,000 pediatric patients of the CHOP Healthcare Network. NJ-TSO data allows CIRP researchers to fill numerous important gaps in car crash research and is utilized in several of the research projects below.

Exemplar CIRP Projects Involving Epidemiological Methods:

  • Effect of New Jersey's Graduated Driver Licensing Decal Provision On Young Intermediate Drivers
    New Jersey has one of the most progressive GDL systems in the country; but without this research, the state would not have known empirically that its robust program reduces young driver crashes.
  • Establishing the Scientific Foundation for Driving with Developmental Disabilities
    Researchers are conducting rigorous research on adolescents with developmental disabilities to provide the evidence base needed to inform the development of tailored medical, behavioral, and technological interventions to address the unique needs of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to prepare them for safe, independent driving.
  • Serious Teen Crashes: Identification of the Most Common Scenarios and Factors
    Funded by the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS), this study utilized the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey(NMVCCS) to examine crash data for 642 16- to 19-year-old drivers and 1,167 35 to 52-year-old drivers who committed a driver-related error that contributed to the serious crash (where one vehicle had to be towed and Emergency Medical Services were called to the scene). Researchers identified the most frequent teen serious crash scenarios and causal factors leading up to serious crashes.
  • Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS)
    PCPS was the world's largest child-focused motor vehicle crash surveillance system. PCPS collected data on 875,000 children in crashes from 1998 to 2007.