Dave W wrote:Really? Bit strong I would think.
"Our mission is:
To promote understanding of all aspects of brain injury and provide information, support and services to survivors, their families and carers. In addition, Headway will campaign to reduce the incidence of brain injury."
That might be their self-set mission, but there again the government's self-set mission is doing a good job of running the country and what they say they're trying to do and what they deliver aren't necessarily the same thing.
So the use of helmets in cars would make plenty of sense, but they don't say anything about that. They are, in other words, heavily swayed by bias that tends to influence much human endeavour, and as is true in many cases, once they've got an idea it's very hard for them to lose their grip on it. You get a lot of motivated, well meaning people working for what they see as the public good, and they lack the training and detachment to see they don't have the basis they think for that.
Similarly, TRL have an excellent record in policy-based evidence making. Their RSR30 paper is what the DfT will send you if you ask your MP why the Highway Code says you should wear a helmet, and it has a narrow range of references all from one end of the spectrum: publication bias. If you only refer to the evidence you like, you get the answer you want, and TRL have form there. Their PPR446 report (all 120 odd pages of it) deserves special mention, for admitting in the text they don't know how effective helmets are, but making an assumption plucked from the air that they are positively quite useful and using that as the basis for, errrr, proving they're positively quite useful (and no, I'm not making that up).
What's particularly interesting about the BMJ editorial by Spiegelhalter and Goldacre is they give you an answer that nobody really wants, including themselves. They admit their tools aren't up to the job of answering the questions, and in all likelihood will continue not to be. That's not the basis for a public health recommendation or requirement, though it says nothing about individual choice.
Another one I think is good is Tim Gill's Cycling and Children and Young People
, where the author demonstrates there's no clear consensus and we're left with a "we do't really know" which isn't a basis for promotion or requirement. The author also has the courage to say he wears a helmet, had his daughter do the same, but it was down to "what if...?" gut feeling rather than the sort of evidence that can reasonably be used to guide public policy. In other words, an individual decision is made on a different basis to a general recommendation, recognising the effect of personal bias.
(edited to add link to Gill's consultation report)
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...