Purpose: As many as 3 million US residents are injured in traffic-related incidents every year leaving many victims with disabling conditions. To date, limited numbers of studies have examined the effects of traffic-related injuries on self-reported health. This study aims to examine the association between health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and traffic-related injuries longitudinally in a nationally representative sample of US adult population.
Methods/approach: This is a longitudinal study of adult participants (age ≥18) from seven panels (2000-2007) of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The dependent variables included the physical and mental components of the SF-12, a measure of self-reported health. The outcome was assessed twice during the follow-up period: round 2 (~4-5 months into the study) and round 4 (~18 months into the study) for 62,298 individuals. Two methods estimate the association between traffic-related injuries and HRQOL: a within person change using paired tests and a between person change using multivariable regression adjusting for age, sex, income and educational level.
Results: Nine hundred and ninety-three participants reported traffic-related injuries during the follow-up period. Compared to their pre-crash HRQOL, these participants lost 2.7 of the physical component score while their mental component did not change. Adjusted results showed significant deficits in the physical component (-2.84, p value = <.001) but not the mental component (-0.07, p value = .83) of HRQOL after controlling for potential confounders.
Conclusion: Traffic injuries were significantly associated with the physical component of HRQOL. These findings highlight the individual and societal burden associated with motor vehicle crash-related disability in the United States.