Epidemiological burden of minor, major and fatal trauma in a national injury pyramid

Br J Surg. 2012 Jan:99 Suppl 1:114-21. doi: 10.1002/bjs.7708.


Background: The impact of trauma on population health is underestimated because comprehensive overviews of the entire severity spectrum of injuries are scarce. The aim of this study was to measure the total health impact of fatal and non-fatal unintentional injury in the Netherlands.

Methods: Epidemiological data for the four levels of the injury pyramid (general practitioner (GP) registry, emergency department (ED) registers, hospital discharge and mortality data) were obtained for the whole country. For all levels, the incidence and years of life lost (YLL) owing to premature death, years lived with disability (YLD) and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) were calculated.

Results: Unintentional injury resulted in 67 547 YLL and 161 775 YLD respectively, amounting to 229 322 DALYs (14.1 per 1000 inhabitants). Home and leisure, and traffic injuries caused most DALYs. Minor injury (GP and ED treatment) contributed 37.3 per cent (85 504 DALYs; 5.2 per 1000) to the total burden of injury, whereas injuries requiring hospital admission contributed 33.3 per cent (76 271 DALYs; 4.7 per 1000) and fatalities contributed 29.5 per cent (67 547 DALYs; 4.1 per 1000). Men aged 15-65 years had the greatest burden of injury, resulting in a share of 39.6 per cent for total DALYs owing to unintentional injury. The highest individual burden resulted from death (19 DALYs per patient).

Conclusion: Trauma causes a major burden to society. For priority setting in public health and the identification of opportunities for prevention it is important that burden-of-injury estimates cover the entire spectrum of injuries, ranging from minor injury to death.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Cost of Illness
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • General Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality, Premature
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Young Adult