Rethinking Injury Events. Explorations in Spatial Aspects and Situational Prevention Strategies
Doktorsavhandling, 2018

This dissertation employs a holistic approach to injuries in everyday settings. It examines spatial aspects of adolescents’ injury events in residential situations, school situations, and suicidal situations, seeking to throw light on any reciprocal influence between situated activity and the physical environment in such events. Thus far, research has generally neglected to pay sufficient attention to everyday injuries and the more mundane sites where they occur. Previous studies on the topic have, moreover, been predominantly mono-disciplinary. Due to the complexity of injury research more broadly and injury prevention more specifically, this dissertation makes a conscious effort to go beyond such limitations. Applying an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary focus, it also aims to contribute to research on social sustainability more in general. 
The more theoretical aspects of the research are geared to providing a better understanding of injury events as something explicable and situated, that is to say, as neither random nor unpreventable. Towards this end, core concepts of architectural research are brought to bear on the interrelationship between humans, objects, and contexts (cf. Love, 2002), defined for the purposes of this dissertation as socio-spatial practice. From this perspective, injury events are then looked at as something resulting from the convergence of factors addressed by the key concepts just named, as something caused by elements traceable to routine or situational activities (cf. Cohen & Felson, 1979; Wikström, 2011). Analysing injury events within this conceptual framework, the causal mechanisms and emergent processes behind injury events can be not only identified, but also prevented, through the use of situational prevention strategies. What this implies is the translation of, mainly, the Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) approach into Injury Prevention through Environmental Design (IPTED). The research here is conducted using a mixed-method approach producing qualitative findings and quantitative data, so as to bridge the gap between the “how” and the “why” (cf. Clarke et al., 2015:13f.; Katz, 2001). 
The results put forth in this dissertation suggest situational prevention specifically aimed at spatial aspects to be a promising approach to injury prevention, having the capability to reduce the occurrence of injury events. In private residential settings, however, the strategy showed itself to be more limited in its efficiency, being more effective when applied in semi-private settings such as building entrances/ lobbies. A still more effective context for it was found to be institutional settings: in them the spatial aspect appeared to be of great importance in relation to injury situations and the degree of visibility. In schools, for instance, the results pointed out to a close relationship between the injury situation, the spatial organization, and the social organization. In such settings, certain injuries tended to cluster spatially due to the organization of day-to-day activities. Finally, the results suggest that also suicides and suicide attempts in semi-public and public spaces could be significantly reduced through carefully thought-out environmental interventions. At the same time, there remains a need for further analysis of the events and places involved in suicides and their attempts, to fully understand who commit them in these settings and why.

injury events

residential settings

situational prevention strategies



Scaniasalen, Chalmersplatsen 1
Opponent: Per-Olof Wikström, University of Cambridge, UK


Charlotta Thodelius

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Byggnadsdesign

Ekbrand, H., Ekman, R., Thodelius, C., & Möller, M. Fall-Related injuries for Three Age Groups: Analysis of Register Data from Sweden

Injury Prevention in Institutional Settings in Sweden.

ARCH17, 3rd International Conference on Architecture, Research, Care, Health.,; (2017)p. 135-149

Paper i proceeding

Thodelius, C. Can Architecture Reduce Deviance in Schools? A Meta-Synthesis of Hot Spots in Swedish Schools

Lethal school violence in Scandinavia: development of an incident typology and suggestions for prevention

Journal of Risk Research,; Vol. 22(2019)p. 692-700

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

Thodelius, C. A Place to Die: New Perspectives on Preventive Wor in Adolscent Suicide

Can the built environment be used as a preventive strategy to reduce adolescences’ injuries? The research presented in this PhD-thesis problematizes contemporary solutions and applied strategies in injury prevention. Instead of focusing on individual traits, injuries are here re-thinked and discussed in terms of situated events with an emphasis on place. Injury events are therefore understood as a result of the interaction between the individual and the environment, with the environment it-self as an actant with a possibility to facilitate or hinder events.
The thesis outlines a theoretical framework based on adaption of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) to injury prevention through environmental design (IPTED). This adaption is based on the assumption that crime events and injury events share some similarities. For example both events are bounded to routine activities of everyday life and situated actions, there personal predispose and environmental factors merge.
Three empirical studies are conducted in the thesis: injury events in residential settings, injury risks in schools and suicidal situations. These studies range from minor to fatal injuries and can be seen as symbolizing three different aspect of adolescence everyday life. The conducted studies are also based on a mixed method approach, combining quantitative and qualitative analysis – to try to bridge “how and why” in injury events.
The theoretical work combined with the empirical research gives at hand that situational prevention specifically aimed at spatial aspects are a promising approach to injury prevention. Above all IPTED seems most effective in injury events situated in relation to intentional injuries such as violence or suicides.



Tvärvetenskapliga studier



Hållbar utveckling



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 4487



Scaniasalen, Chalmersplatsen 1

Opponent: Per-Olof Wikström, University of Cambridge, UK

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