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About the lab

A significant number of patients presenting to the emergency department for an unintentional injury or overdose made an impulsive decision that lead to their injury just prior to arrival. Most often these decisions, such as sending a text while driving, getting behind the wheel intoxicated, and injecting heroin are made knowing that these behaviors are harmful. 

Conventional theories assume individuals form intentions to change behavior based on the rational assessment of the costs and benefits and consistently act in their own interest. By contrast, behavioral economics applies psychological insights to understand the many natural decisions people make that routinely deviate from their best interests.

Through dozens of studies the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics and other groups have demonstrated how a variety of common decision errors such as status quo bias, present bias (tendency to overweight immediate costs and benefits over future), loss aversion, and regret aversion can be used to develop effective, high impact interventions for health behavior change. While these approaches have been applied to reducing causes of chronic health problems, such as smoking, overeating, and lack of physical activity, they have not been well applied to reducing the impulsive behaviors leading to injury. Furthermore, smartphones represent an innovative opportunity to better understand risky behaviors and provide real-time, scalable injury prevention interventions. 

Once a traumatic injury has occurred, outcomes can be significantly optimized with time-sensitive interventions and triage to specialized trauma center hospitals. However, most research focused on improving trauma systems have focused on patients treated in trauma centers, despite the fact that 30-40% of critically injured patients do not receive care in these centers. Therefore by using population level data, including data from non-trauma centers, new insights can be gained on how to improve population-level trauma outcomes.  


The BeSAFIR Lab was created to address these opportunities with the goal of discovering new, effective ways to prevent injuries and optimize outcomes once they happen. 

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