These focus groups qualitatively investigated injury-related knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and prevention ideas of young, educated Egyptians in the metropolitan area of Cairo. All participants involved in the focus groups thought injuries were an important cause of morbidity and mortality in Egypt and were receptive to the idea of injury prevention.
A key finding was that participants thought hadthah
(accidents) were more serious than esabah
(injuries) and that hadthah
were less preventable (more likely to be out of one’s control) than esabah
. This is interesting considering that, in English speaking countries, injury prevention researchers have pressed for the word ‘injury’ to be used instead of ‘accident’ in order to convey the idea of preventability.5,6
When translating injury questionnaires into Arabic, it is important to keep in mind that Egyptians may not identify with the use of the word esabah
to describe certain events.
The idea that hadthah was out of one’s control was consistently expressed, suggesting that participants consider hadthah less preventable than esabah. Road traffic injuries were nearly unanimously thought of as hadthah. Of interest is the apparent conceptual inconsistency of the inevitability of hadthah compared with the frequent discussion of prevention strategies for RTCs.
Individual responsibility, as indicated by the concepts of carelessness and lack of respect for the laws, was viewed as the main human cause of injuries in Egypt.
Similar to our results, a recent study in Iran7
also found that people believed law enforcement was important for RTC prevention, and that education had an important role in the prevention of traumatic events in general. Like Egypt, rough and careless driving was a perceived cause of road traffic injuries in South Africa.8
Police deterrence and enforcement were two suggestions for preventing injuries in South Africa.8
Participants in our study felt law enforcement could play a positive role in injury prevention, but this will be a sensitive issue, as some participants were reluctant to be involved in legal matters related to car crashes or traumatic events.
The participants’ focus on aspects of infrastructure, including public transportation and city planning, suggests that Egypt is still in the early stages of injury prevention, and basic engineering measures are needed to prevent many injuries. However, participants were also open to educational preventive measures, which suggests they recognise some human responsibility in certain events.
These focus groups have served to re-evaluate the terminology recognised by lay people related to injuries in Egypt, and has uncovered an openness to prevention along with advice for how and where to implement educational and prevention methods in Egypt.
Limitations of this study include small sample size, potential bias due to mixed age/gender focus groups, and the fact that the focus groups were a convenience sample of young Egyptians. Although the groups only represented urban upper middle class young adults, these relatively well-educated young people were easily able to vocalise ideas for prevention and to discuss the problems they see in Cairo, where the majority of urban Egyptians live. Overall, the results of these focus groups uncovered language issues (hadthah vs esabah), which are important to keep in mind for future surveys in Egypt. It is important to note that causes, knowledge and prevention strategies related to injuries might differ in rural areas and should be the target for future research.