Harlem Hospital Program Reduces Childhood Injuries

Beginning in 1988, the Harlem Hospital Injury Prevention Program demonstrated that hospital-based programs designed to provide safety education and safe play areas and activities could markedly reduce childhood injuries and hospital visits.

The project in Harlem led to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Injury Free Coalition for Kids: Dissemination of a Model Injury Prevention Program for Children and Adolescents, managed by the original project's director, Barbara Barlow, M.D. The project continued under the program. (For more information see Program Results.)

Key Results

  • The number of injured children admitted to Harlem Hospital declined by 41 percent over the five year period 1988–1992 compared with 1983–1988 baseline data.
  • After one year of intervention, the Harlem Hospital Trauma Registry showed that injury-related hospital admissions fell 14 percent from 1988 to 1989, the first drop since 1975.
  • After two years, trauma from motor vehicles decreased 23 percent from baseline, possibly due to the availability of safe play areas for children.


RWJF made two grants totaling $541,306 to support the project from August 1988 to July 1992. RWJF made two additional grants totaling $4,300,648 to Harlem Hospital to support the program (including the Harlem Hospital project) from June 1994 to July 2001.