The public health impact of minor injury

Accid Anal Prev. 1996 Jul;28(4):443-51. doi: 10.1016/0001-4575(96)00012-7.


The mortality and hospital morbidity data usually used to quantify the burden of injury are generally considered to represent only the tip of the iceberg. This article documents the population-based morbidity arising from non-hospitalised injuries and demonstrates the public health importance of this group of injuries. A prospective cohort study was conducted in an Australian population using a sample of injured adults to identify the health outcomes arising from the range of injuries. The total health loss caused by injury experienced by these subjects over the period of injury recovery was calculated and then weighted to provide population estimates. This study has shown that minor injuries are responsible for the greater part of the injury-related health burden in the adult community. Injuries that can be coded as 1 on the Abbreviated Injury Scale account for 80% of the morbidity arising over the first six months after injury and about 75% of the estimated lifetime morbidity. The lifetime estimates of morbidity resulting from injuries not considered serious enough to admit to hospital were of an order of magnitude higher than those that resulted in either death or hospitalisation. Sprains contributed as much to the total morbidity as all other injuries types combined and limb injuries contributed more to the total morbidity than injuries to the more central structures. The results of this study provide a strong argument for the recognition of the public health importance of minor injury. Strategies for the prevention and management of minor injury must be included in national programmes for injury control.

MeSH terms

  • Abbreviated Injury Scale
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cause of Death
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Public Health*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control