Our research attempted to study the factors that influenced the use of injury data in two cities, representing different injury and socio-economic profiles. In Pretoria, the South African capital city, injury data uptake was constrained by, among other factors, the transitional institutional environment, stakeholders' suspicion of research and the absence of safety promotion champions. In the Swedish city of Borås, injury data uptake was facilitated by well-established research agency-municipality partnerships, injury prevention champions, a receptive political and knowledge driven environment and dedicated resources. The study signified the role of a range of content issues, contextual arrangements, social actors who may or may not operate from a perspective of sufficient consensus and institutional communication processes that may either facilitate or hinder the multiple employment and rapid movement of data along the 'ladder of knowledge utilisation'. Safety promotion researchers may need to expand their roles beyond data production to improve data utility.