Background: The aims of this study were to describe temporal patterns of injury-related mortality by sex, age group, and mechanism, and to identify changes in the leading causes of injury-related deaths in South Korea from 1996 through 2006.
Methods: This retrospective, descriptive study analyzed national data on all injury-related deaths reported in official death certificates from 1996-2006. Incidence rates of fatal injuries are presented as crude and age-standardized rates per 100 000 population, and percentage changes in injury-related mortalities over the 11-year period were calculated with respect to intention, sex, and age. The 4 most common mechanisms (fall, poisoning, suffocation, and drowning) were then classified as unintentional injuries or suicides.
Results: Overall injury-related mortality decreased 31.7% during the study period (1996-2006). Despite this overall decreasing trend, injury-related mortality increased among adults aged 65 years or older. In particular, injury-related mortality among women older than 80 years doubled since 1996. Suicide replaced transport as the leading cause of injury-related deaths between 2003 and 2006. With regard to intention, sex, and age, the most noticeable changes during the study period were increases in unintentional fall among elderly adults and suicidal fall among adolescents.
Conclusions: The incidence rate for all injuries generally decreased from 1996-2006. However, the incidence rate of fall injuries increased among elderly adults, and suicide increased among adolescents. These findings suggest that further investigation of the characteristics and trends of injuries is necessary to develop and implement effective interventions.