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Open Access Correspondence

A life course approach to injury prevention: a "lens and telescope" conceptual model

Jamie Hosking1, Shanthi Ameratunga1*, Susan Morton2 and Danilo Blank3

Author Affiliations

1 Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland Mail Centre, Auckland 1142, New Zealand

2 Centre for Longitudinal Research, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland Mail Centre, Auckland 1142, New Zealand

3 Departamento de Pediatria, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:695  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-695

Published: 8 September 2011



Although life course epidemiology is increasingly employed to conceptualize the determinants of health, the implications of this approach for strategies to reduce the burden of injuries have received little recognition to date.


The authors reviewed core injury concepts and the principles of the life course approach. Based on this understanding, a conceptual model was developed, to provide a holistic view of the mechanisms that underlie the accumulation of injury risk and their consequences over the life course.


A "lens and telescope" model is proposed that particularly draws on (a) the extended temporal dimension inherent in the life course approach, with links between exposures and outcomes that span many years, or even generations, and (b) an ecological perspective, according to which the contexts in which individuals live are critical, as are changes in those contexts over time.


By explicitly examining longer-term, intergenerational and ecological perspectives, life course concepts can inform and strengthen traditional approaches to injury prevention and control that have a strong focus on proximal factors. The model proposed also serves as a tool to identify intervention strategies that have co-benefits for other areas of health.