A New Strategic Planning Index for Injury and Violence Prevention

Hi there! We are Lauren Wilson and Angie Deokar, two of the authors behind a new strategic planning tool: the Violence and Injury Prevention: Comprehensive Index Tool (VIP: CIT). We know strategic planning is a useful process for aligning goals with the nuances, needs, and resources of a system. A system can be a community, county, state, or nation. The VIP: CIT uses questions and a rubric to help users assess the strengths, gaps, and barriers for their strategic plans. The tool is built around systems-change paradigms that emphasize integration of data, science, practice, and decision making. The VIP: CIT covers many injury-prevention relevant topics, including partnerships, data, health disparities, policy and regulations, and program evaluation.

What was happening: Our grantees provide updated strategic plans for injury and violence prevention as part of the Core State Violence and Injury Prevention Program; however, comprehensive strategic planning for injury and violence prevention has been difficult, in part because of limited guidance, including from the Core program. We scanned the academic literature and widely available resources to determine what guidance already existed and whether it would be helpful for injury and violence prevention. We found that while some open-ended guidance is out there, there was a lack of specificity or detail for key systems components for injury and violence prevention. That’s how we determined the need for the VIP: CIT!

What we learned: We developed the VIP: CIT to reflect comprehensive injury and violence prevention systems, to assess how strategic plans (and the content within) change over time, and to be both detailed and flexible. We assumed our partners would use the tool first to assess their plans and then to alter their planning process over time.

To better understand its actual use in the field, we pilot tested the VIP: CIT by giving states access to an early version. We found that states didn’t necessarily use the tool in a linear fashion but rather would pick and choose which components were most meaningful for their context. They tended to share this knowledge with their decision makers and stakeholders prior to creating any goals, objectives, or plans, meaning the tool was used throughout the planning process and not just for assessing plans already completed.

We also piloted the tool by scoring some pre-exiting state plans, and we discovered several nuances across states in terms of how plans were structured and the content that was highlighted. For instance, some states organized their plan through upstream risk and protective factors shared across multiple outcomes, while other states highlighted particular areas of burden or concern in their state. We realized the importance of making sure the final VIP: CIT was flexible to the nuances and needs of each individual state.

Developing and testing the VIP: CIT challenged our own assumptions. We came to understand that the greatest benefit, rather than assessment scores, was in the structure the tool provided related to strategic planning process, that is, the conversation, pre-planning, the flexibility, and coordination inspired by having guidance from the beginning.

What action can be taken: This tool offers several means of supporting strategic planning; it is a launching point for developing future plans, a foundation for additional planning guidance, and an assessment for existing plans. We are expanding the VIP: CIT to hold an entire toolkit of injury and violence-related strategic planning materials. We would like your suggestions for what would be helpful to you and your partners, and you can reach us through the contact address in our article.

You can read our paper to learn more about our rationale, how we developed this tool, and our love for strategic planning! You can also download the VIP: CIT and the scoring rubric. We hope you find the VIP: CIT helpful, whether you are assessing, improving, or conversing with your partners about your current plan.

Happy planning!


The findings and conclusions in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

See: Wilson, Lauren; Deokar, Angela J.; Zaesim, Araya; More. Development of a Comprehensive and Interactive Tool to Inform State Violence and Injury Prevention Plans. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. 24:S59-S66, January/February 2018.

Read the full issue of our special supplement Catalyzing State Public Health Agency Actions to Prevent Injury and Violence.

Lauren Wilson

Lauren Wilson is a Translation Fellow in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her work focuses on reducing the gap between emerging knowledge and its actionable use. She specializes in the prevention of unintentional and violent injury and supports this effort through creating translational documents to promote best prevention practices.



Angela Deokar

Angela Deokar, MPH, CHES, CPH, is a Public Health Advisor in CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. She serves as a Project Officer, with expertise in providing technical assistance and support to state health departments and other partners on implementing state violence and injury prevention programs, regional and national collaborative learning opportunities, and opioid overdose prevention programs.