Objective: To systematically review the literature to explore health professionals' knowledge, attitudes and practices and their role in childhood injury prevention.
Methods: MEDLINE (1966-September Week 1 2005), EMBASE (1980-2005 Week 37), CINAHL (1982-September Week 1 2005), BRITISH NURSING INDEX (1985-September 2005) and PsychINFO (1967-August Week 5 2005) were searched using relevant 'medical subheadings' (for MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL) and 'thesaurus terms' (for PsychINFO).
Results: Twenty-five primary studies were retrieved, the majority of which were surveys. Health professionals' knowledge was reported to be variable, although generally they have a positive attitude towards childhood injury prevention. Even with adequate knowledge and positive attitudes there appear to be barriers in prevention practice.
Conclusion: There continues to be a need for high quality research specifically looking at how to change practice. Nevertheless, although training may be effective at increasing health professionals' knowledge and changing their attitudes, legislative and engineering measures may ultimately more effective at reducing the burden of childhood injuries.
Practice implications: Barriers to practice for health professionals need to be taken into account. No matter how knowledgeable nor how positive their attitudes to childhood injury prevention if barriers to practice are not addressed we will move no closer to reducing the burden of injuries in childhood. Those health professionals who are positive about their role may be best suited to continue to raise the issue campaigning for legislative and engineering changes which can reduce childhood injuries.