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Injury is a leading cause of death, disability and health care costs worldwide. The Global Burden of Disease Study, which creates a unique framework by which 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 globally 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 3-1Injury Deaths Rise in Rank, Leading Causes of Death, 2012 and 2030 Compared

In several ways the burden and demographics of injury in the United States provide an example of the patterns seen worldwide; that is, injury is most prevalent in communities of lower socioeconomic status, rates of injury are higher in men than women, and young people are disproportionately affected by injury. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional injury remained the leading cause of death in the United States from age 1 to 44 years in 2013. Unintentional injury, suicide, and homicide are the first, second and third leading causes of death in ...

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