The Haddon matrix: applying an epidemiologic research tool as a framework for death investigation

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2000 Dec;21(4):339-42. doi: 10.1097/00000433-200012000-00008.


The Haddon matrix is a research tool used by injury epidemiologists. Although this matrix has typically been used only in epidemiologic studies, it may serve as a framework to investigate the circumstances of traumatic deaths. This matrix consists of three rows representing time phases (before the injury incident, during the incident, and after the incident) and four columns representing the energy agent, characteristics of the deceased person, the environment, and the vehicle or vector resulting in the abnormal energy exchange, which are considered in the context of the three time phases. The authors present four cases illustrating how this epidemiologic tool can be useful during death investigations. Although the objectives for epidemiologic studies and medicolegal death investigations differ, this approach can be used to describe the circumstances surrounding an injury-related death.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention
  • Accidents, Occupational / mortality*
  • Accidents, Occupational / prevention & control
  • Adult
  • Cause of Death
  • Epidemiologic Research Design*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*