Appropriate indicators for injury control?

Public Health. 2002 Sep;116(5):252-6. doi: 10.1038/


Indicators are valuable tools used to measure progress towards a desired health outcome. Increased awareness of the public health burden due to injury has lead to a concomitant interest in monitoring the impact of national initiatives that aim to reduce the size of the burden. Several injury indicators have now been proposed. This study examines the ability of each of the suggested indicators to reflect the nature and extent of the burden of non-fatal injury. A criterion validity, population-based, prospective cohort study was conducted in Brisbane, a sub-tropical Metropolitan City on the eastern seaboard of Australia, over a 12-month period between 1 January and 31 December 1998. Neither the presence of a long bone fracture nor the need for hospitalisation for 4 or more days were sensitive or specific indicators for 'serious' or major injury as defined by the 'Gold Standard' Injury Severity Score (ISS). Subsequent analysis, using other public health outcome measures demonstrated that the major component of the illness burden of injury was in fact due to 'minor' not serious injury. However, the suggested indicators demonstrated low sensitivity and specificity for these outcomes as well. The results of the study support the need to include at least all hospitalisations in any population-based measure of injury and not attempt to simplify the indicator to a more convenient measure aimed at identifying just those cases of 'serious' injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cost of Illness
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score*
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Admission
  • Patient Transfer
  • Prospective Studies
  • Public Health Administration*
  • Queensland / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / classification*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*