Purpose: To understand the magnitude and the national trends of mortality and hospitalization due to injuries among Canadian adolescents aged 15-19 years in 1979-2003.
Methods: Data on injury deaths and hospitalizations were obtained from the national Vital Statistical System and the Hospital Morbidity Database. Injuries were classified by intent and by mechanism.
Results: In 15-19-year-olds, 75.6% of all deaths and 16.6% of all hospitalizations were attributed to injuries. Unintentional and self-inflicted injuries accounted for 70.2% and 24.1%, respectively, of total injury deaths as well as 72.6% and 17.4%, respectively, of total injury hospitalizations. The main causes for injury were motor vehicle traffic-related injury (MVT), suffocation, firearm, poisoning, and drowning for injury deaths; and MVT, poisoning, fall, struck by/against, and cut/pierce for injury hospitalizations. Mortality and hospitalization rates of total and unintentional injuries decreased substantially, whereas those of self-inflicted injuries decreased only slightly, with a small increase in females. Rates also decreased for all causes except suffocation, which showed an increasing trend. Males had higher rates for all intents and causes than females, except for self-inflicted injury hospitalization (higher in females). The territories and Prairie Provinces also had higher ones of total injuries and self-inflicted injuries than in other provinces.
Conclusions: Injury is the leading cause of deaths and a major source of hospitalizations in Canadian adolescents. However, prevention programs in Canada have made significant progress in reducing injury mortality and hospitalization. The graduated driver licensing, enforcement of seat-belt use, speed limit and alcohol control, and Canadian tough gun control may have contributed to the decline.