Research Article: Data Sources for Improving Estimates of the Global Burden of Injuries: Call for Contributors

Date Published: January 20, 2009

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Kavi Bhalla, James Harrison, Jerry Abraham, Nagesh N Borse, Ronan Lyons, Soufiane Boufous, Limor Aharonson-Daniel

Abstract: Kavi Bhalla and colleagues invite individuals and organizations to provide local injury data sources to help inform estimates of the global burden of injuries.

Partial Text: We have recently embarked on a collaborative project to improve estimates of the global burden of injuries. This commentary invites individuals and organizations to contribute to building this global public good by providing the project access to relevant results from local injury data sources.

A basic guiding principle for this project is that best estimates of the burden of deaths and nonfatal injuries should be generated by inclusion of all existing knowledge and sources of information. Thus, arguably, the most important inputs for this project are existing local, regional, and national administrative data sources that routinely collect information about victims as well as research studies that have collected relevant information as part of their investigation. It is important to note that most countries do not have injury surveillance systems capable of directly reporting population-level estimates of deaths and nonfatal injuries. Thus, analytical tools are needed to maximize the utility of all known data sources for estimating the burden of injuries (see, for instance, [3,4]). In the context of estimating the global burden of injuries, relevant data sources (Box 1) can be used for improving the estimates of incidence of injuries (e.g., by external cause: road traffic crashes, falls, fires, etc.), correlating external causes with injury outcomes (e.g., likelihood of hip fractures in road traffic crashes), and/or for improving the estimates of the health burden associated with the disability due to nonfatal injuries. Few data sources can inform all three aspects. For instance, while population health surveys can help estimate incidence of injuries, they rarely provide reliable information about injury sequelae. Similarly, while medical records are one of the best sources for injury diagnosis, they are often not population representative. Thus, piecing together information from multiple sources is a necessary aspect of estimating the burden of injuries.

The expert group has been conducting an environmental scan to identify all potential sources of information for such work. Figure 1 shows that data sources that can inform such estimates exist in all regions of the world, including regions such as sub-Saharan Africa that have been traditionally considered information poor. It is essential that most, if not all, of these sources inform this project. The group urges all those who support the objectives of the project to help us get access to these information sources (Box 2). The project will evaluate all potential data sources for quality and wherever possible put them to appropriate use.



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