How adequate are emergency department home and leisure injury surveillance systems for cross-country comparisons in Europe?
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The objective of this study was to assess whether the emergency department (ED) injury surveillance systems in Europe are suitable for cross-country comparisons. For this, the ED injury surveillance systems in Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK (England, Wales) were considered. Standardised injury incidence and healthcare utilisation indices were calculated and the influence of measurement bias due to data collection and sampling differences, as well as trauma policy and health systems characteristics were assessed. The results showed that there was an over 3-fold variation of the grossly estimated incidence for home and leisure injuries (HLIs), with the highest values observed in England and Greece (111 and 104 per 1000 person years), and the lowest in Ireland and the Netherlands (27 and 48 per 1000 person years). The ranking of countries changed, however, when only injuries with an inherent need for ED treatment were considered (selected radiological verifiable fractures) with Austria topping the table followed by Greece and England. Thus, it is concluded that the naive use of ED injury surveillance systems for cross-country comparisons should be discouraged, as this is subject to measurement bias. Nevertheless, the observed variation in the healthcare utilisation and injury incidence, particularly among children and older people, indicates the potential to reduce the burden of HLI in Europe.
- International comparison
- Home and leisure injury
- Injury incidence
- Burden of injury
- Injury surveillance