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  • Injury is responsible for more deaths worldwide than HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.

  • Injury remains the leading cause of death in the United States in people age 1 to 46 years old.

  • The financial cost of injury is tremendous. Road traffic injuries alone cost most countries 1% to 2% of their gross national product.

  • The social determinants of health, including poor employment opportunities, food deserts, poor education, and poverty, contribute significantly to risk of sustaining injury; addressing these factors represents a targeted strategy to reduce injury and recidivism.

  • Evaluation of injury prevention programs begins at inception with feasibility and incorporates quantitative and qualitative measures.

  • Broad public health principles can be applied to prevention of intentional and unintentional injuries.

  • Prevention programs focus on risk reduction and thoughtful evaluation.


Injury is a leading cause of death, disability, and health care costs worldwide. The Global Burden of Disease Study, which creates a unique framework to assess national trends in all-cause and cause-specific mortality and morbidity, has shed light on the burden of injury relative to the denominator of all morbidity and mortality.1 This research and other prominent publications have been instrumental in moving injury to a level of recognition commensurate with its level of disease burden. Injury has begun to gain recognition as a prominent public health issue as thought leaders, researchers, and clinicians are vigorously studying the issues within a framework by which prevention efforts, trauma systems, and advocacy strategies can be developed and maintained.

Approximately 5.8 million people die around the world annually from injury-related causes. As a consequence of inadequate surveillance in many parts of the world, that number is likely to be much higher. Injury is responsible for more deaths worldwide than HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. The impact is projected to increase over time relative to other leading causes of death (Table 3-1).2 Greater than 90% of injury deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and within individual countries, vulnerable populations tend to be of lower socioeconomic status. This further hampers the progress of already struggling communities.

TABLE 3-1:Injury Deaths Rise in Rank, Leading Causes of Death, 2012 and 2030 Compared

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