The WHO safe community program for injury prevention: evaluation of the impact on injury severity

Public Health. 1998 Nov;112(6):385-91. doi: 10.1038/


Despite the fact that injuries consume a considerable amount of health care resources world-wide, 3.5 million people die from unintentional injuries each year. To handle this central public health problem, WHO has introduced the Safe Community accreditation for injury prevention programs. This study was to investigate the impact from a Safe Community program with regard to injury severity. Data were collected in Motala municipality (population = 41,000), Ostergötland county, Sweden, during one year before and one year after program intervention, from two sources: registration of trivial (AIS 1) and non-trivial (AIS 2-6) unintentional injuries from all acute care episodes in the area and recollection of hospital bed days from discharge registers. The incidence of non-trivial injuries treated in health care was found to have decreased by 41% (95% confidence interval, 37-45%), while the trivial injuries increased by 16% (9-22%). The larger decrease of non-trivial injuries was observed in all ages and injury event environments. The total number of bed days at emergency hospitals due to injuries decreased by 39% (37-41%) from 1983-84 to 1989, while the hospital bed utilization for other reasons decreased by 9% (8-9%). The study showed the implementation of a WHO Safe Community program led to the harm from unintentional injuries within the community being considerably more reduced than that of the injury incidence. In future assessments of injury prevention programs, classification of injury severity should be included to increase the validity of inter-program comparisons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abbreviated Injury Scale*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Program Evaluation
  • Registries
  • Safety Management / organization & administration*
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • World Health Organization*
  • Wounds and Injuries / classification
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*