David C. Schwebel has published over 235 peer-reviewed manuscripts, most focusing on understanding and preventing unintentional injury in children, adolescents, and young adults. Specific risk factors of interest include temperament and personality, overestimation of physical ability and cognitive development, and adult supervision of children.
From a prevention perspective, Dr. Schwebel has developed and implemented injury prevention techniques for a range of situations, including pedestrian safety training in virtual reality environments, school playground safety via behavioral strategies targeting teachers, drowning prevention through lifeguard training at public swimming pools, dog bite prevention in rural China and in the United States, and kerosene safety in low-income South Africa neighborhoods.
Dr. Schwebel is a Woodrow Wilson Scholar, a Fulbright Award winner, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. His research has been funded by NIH, CDC, DOT, and several other federal, non-profit and industry groups.
What many people call an accident is usually not accidental. If people had behaved differently, that accident may have been averted. Early research in the UAB Youth Safety Lab, which I direct, focused on understanding psychological and behavioral factors that place children, adolescents and young adults at increased risk for unintentional injuries. We considered cognitive development, temperament, adult supervision, and many other factors.
Over time, my desire to apply our research findings to help children and families led me to translate our findings about risk for child injury into intervention and prevention programs. Currently, much of my research is focused on development, evaluation, and implementation of programs to reduce youth injury risk. Many of these prevention programs are based in technology — examples include using virtual reality to teach children to cross streets, multi-media internet training to improve teacher supervision at preschool playgrounds, and use of interactive augmented reality to help parents install car seats correctly. Other work is global — identifying ways to reduce kerosene poisoning in low-income South African communities, reducing risk of dog bites in rural China and pedestrian injury in urban China, and reducing suicide risk among young women in rural Iran. All of our research is closely grounded in psychological theory of child development, health-related behavior change, and ecological context. Our work is also applied, designed to improve public health through changes in how children and the adults who supervise them behave and think, or changes to the environment children and their supervisors engage within.
Our laboratory’s ultimate goal is to use psychological science to understand risk for injury and then develop, evaluate, and disseminate effective programs to reduce injuries to children, adolescents, and young adults.