The idea for SafetyLit came from a service provided in the early- to mid-1990s by Sandy Bonzo, a librarian with the U.S. CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. That bibliographic update was a print-out of article citations from Medline that were indexed with selected MeSH terms relevant to the treatment and prevention of injuries. That valuable service ended in 1995.
To help fill the gap from that loss, SafetyLit began in 1995 as a simple email message with injury prevention-related citations sent to about 20 people affiliated with the CDC-funded Disability Prevention Program in Louisiana and a few other states. As more and more people learned about SafetyLit the mailing list expanded. By the end of 1998 the updates were circulated to more than 5000 addresses. By the close of 1999 the address list had expanded beyond 15,000.
During 1999, several publishing companies began electronically supplying their journal article citation and abstract data to SafetyLit and the journal sources expanded far beyond what was available through PubMed. In 2001 the service moved from a series of flat-file newsletters to a database-driven dynamic website. With that improvement, an archive database with search capacity was established. From that time forward each week saw the addition of about 300 recently-published articles and more than 700 articles from the back-files of journals that publish relevant material.
The database exceeded 375,000 items in January 2013. The SafetyLit website receives more than 50,000 unique visitors each week.
SafetyLit includes summaries of doctoral theses, "scholarly" reports and journal articles about injury occurrence and risk factors. Items are considered relevant if they concern any of the pre-event or event elements of the Haddon Matrix; the epidemiology of injury; or the financial, personal, or societal costs or consequences of the any injury or risk factor.
In general, items concerning medical treatment for injuries or complications of medical care are excluded except when the item also contains information on one of the inclusion criteria. Similarly, items that focus upon routine road or building repair and maintenance are excluded except when those items are relevant to safety. SafetyLit also includes material on other topics that may help a reader to make decisions about research or prevention strategies and priorities.
The purpose of SafetyLit is to provide its users with information to allow them to identify and find material (of both good and poor quality) that has been published about injury prevention and safety promotion topics. Even when SafetyLit staff believe that there are methodological errors that affect the research findings or when we disagree with the authors' conclusions and statements of implications, an attempt is made to provide an objective summary of the authors' intent. Material in the 'comments' section of each report's summary is provided by the author(s) of the report -- not by SafetyLit.
An important part of professionalism is to identify flawed publications and counter the flaws by commenting upon them in a letter to the editor of the journal where the article was published. Further, the best knowledge today may become outdated tomorrow. Older articles with inaccuracies are not removed from the site. These out-of-date items may be useful for authors or researchers who are examining the progression of scientific or social thought on a topic.
Revised 10 February 2013