Background: Routine measurement of outcomes other than mortality in trauma is needed to monitor trauma care, benchmark trauma hospitals and systems, and to guide resource provision. Trauma registries are ideally placed to capture morbidity outcomes such as functional loss, disability, and handicap. This study aimed to provide a broad description of the 6-month outcomes of major trauma patients captured by a population-based trauma registry, establish the follow-up rate of registry patients, and determine any biases associated with loss to follow up.
Methods: The Victorian State Trauma Registry (VSTR) is a population-based registry in Victoria, Australia. Major trauma patients captured by the VSTR with a date of injury from October 1, 2003 to September 30, 2004 were followed up at 6 months postinjury by telephone to collect information about their living status, functional levels, and return to work.
Results: Of the 1,102 eligible patients, 67% were successfully followed up at 6 months postinjury. Eighteen patients had died since discharge. Patients lost to follow up were less severely injured (p = 0.004) and younger (p = 0.010) at baseline than those followed up. The vast majority of major trauma patients are independent with respect to locomotion (78%), feeding (93%), and expression (93%) by 6 months postinjury. Of those working before injury, 60% had returned to work.
Conclusions: The findings show that follow up of registry patients is feasible, results in few biases in the follow-up population, and reports similar findings to individual studies of trauma populations.