Each year, the ODP recognizes early-career scientists who are poised to become future leaders in prevention research. In 2022, we’re honoring Dr. Christine Baugh, who conducts interdisciplinary research at the intersection of health, policy, sport, and ethics. Much of her work focuses on the prevention of concussions and other sports injuries.
As we look forward to her lecture on May 11 (register to join us!), we asked Dr. Baugh to share a little bit about her background, research, and her perspective on the future of injury prevention research.
How did you get involved in prevention research—and, more specifically, your field of research?
I began my career in clinical research. During that time, I saw numerous people affected by the downstream health consequences of concussion and brain injury from sport. Their struggles made it clear to me that injury prevention research could have a tremendous individual and public health impact, and that is what inspired me to move toward prevention research focused on concussion and sports injury. That said, I must admit that at the time I was unaware of prevention research as a field, I just knew I wanted to work “upstream” of the later life consequences I had witnessed. In the course of my studies and training in public health and health policy, I realized that my goal was to use the tools I was gaining toward prevention, and I found my home in prevention research.
What is one thing that you hope people learn from your work?
Don’t shy away from complex questions or multidisciplinary methods. Much of my work has been on prevention of concussion from sport—a topic that garners significant public attention and sometimes scrutiny, in part because of the complex ways sports are engrained into our society. This also means that it brings prevention research “in front of” a vast audience, giving exposure to the field and potentially giving ownership for prevention to the numerous stakeholders and participants in sports. Simultaneously, my work (and ultimately the populations it serves) benefits from a multitude of perspectives. For example, through multidisciplinary collaborations, stakeholder engagement, and community partnerships.
Although these topics or approaches aren’t necessarily “traditional” in sports medicine or sports injury research, it is my view that they are tremendously impactful.
Where do you see the field of injury prevention/sports medicine research evolving in the future?
There are so many exciting advancements on the horizon. I think there is a lot that injury prevention and sports medicine researchers (including myself) can learn from research in other areas. In my work, I am working toward using some of the tools and techniques of health services research toward injury prevention endpoints.
I am also trying to leverage novel data sources, community partnerships, and stakeholder-led interventions. Using frameworks from bioethics to think about the ethical implications of my work, reductions in inequities, and disparities resultant from systemic injustices is increasingly part of my research. I think that these and other ways of embracing multidisciplinary research will yield significant advancements in injury prevention and sports medicine research in the future.
Do you have any advice for future trainees interested in prevention research?
Join us! The prevention research community is diverse in so many ways including topics, methods, and populations. One commonality is our desire to improve individual and population health. My career has been made richer by the connections I have made with others in the prevention research community—mentors, peers, and mentees.
I encourage future trainees interested in prevention research to seek out connections with others in the field, to home in on the topics or populations that matter most to them, to work hard on building their methods toolbox, and to get excited about the impacts they can have through prevention research.