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Injuries resulting from accidents (unintentional injuries) constitute a major challenge to public health in Norway.
Accidental death is today the leading cause of death among people under 45 years. In addition, accidents cause a large number of non-fatal injuries with detrimental consequences – both for the injured person and to society at large. Injuries and fatalities resulting from accidents are largely preventable. Consequently, there is great potential in improving public health by reducing the number of accidents.
In 2009, the government initiated a national strategy for accident prevention, the aim of which is twofold: 1) to advance our knowledge of injury incidence and on that basis set targets for injury reduction, and 2) to improve cooperation between different sectors involved in accident prevention. This strategy forms the background for the current report.
This report aims to describe the epidemiology of injuries in Norway, overall and for separate sectors (transport, work, leisure, home etc.). We analyse the incidence of injuries over time and by different variables such as gender, age, geography, socioeconomic status and ethnicity.
While the report mainly focuses on accidental injuries, some analyses also include injuries resulting from assault and intentional self-harm.
Injury data have been collected from a variety of sources, including the Cause of Death Registry (DÅR) and the Norwegian Patient Register (NPR). Additional sources have been used to study sociodemographic variables and to present injury data within specific areas in greater depth. However, data from a separate injury module in NPR (FMDS) have been less extensively used due to poor coverage.
National registry data indicate that approximately 540 000 people are injured annually in Norway. This estimate includes both accidental injuries and injuries caused by assault or self-harm. About 2 500 people die from their injuries, whereas roughly 100 000 are taken directly to hospitals for treatment.
The largest group of patients (approximately 250 000) are handled by primary health care services (e.g., general practitioners) without need for further treatment.
- Overall, injuries occur most frequently among teenagers, young adults and the elderly.
- Men suffer injuries more often than women until they reach their 50’s, after which women become more injury prone.
- Men die from accidents more often than women in all age groups.
The rate of accidental death increases with age, and is particularly high for people over 80 years. However, accidents account for a larger proportion of overall mortality in young people.
Historically, death from accidents has decreased substantially in Norway, especially for children.
Leading causes of fatalities are transport accidents, accidental falls and accidental poisoning. Transport accidents particularly affect teenagers and young adults, whereas accidental falls are most common among the elderly.
Fatalities resulting from transport accidents have declined considerably since the 1970’s.
Death by drowning has likewise become much less frequent.
Our analyses furthermore show that injuries vary according to geography, socioeconomic status and ethnicity.
International comparisons of accidental deaths reveal that Norway has high rates of accidental poisoning and fire, whereas mortality rates for transport accidents, drowning and falls are comparatively low.
This report also highlights sizable gaps in current knowledge. For instance, estimates from the National Institute of Occupational Health indicate that many occupational injuries go unreported. In other sectors (e.g., education, home accidents), no system of registration is currently in place, and injury incidence must instead be estimated on the basis of external sources.
In this report we outline the difficulties of presenting a complete description of the epidemiology of injuries in Norway. No national injury registry is currently able to provide unambiguous injury data. Furthermore, the majority of existing registries are sector-specific and often lacking in data quality and coverage. These limitations complicate the task of setting targets for the reduction of accidental injuries. Improved reporting in NPRs injury module FMDS will provide a more complete description of injuries treated in hospitals, and may give valuable information about injuries occurring in different sectors. Knowledge of injuries treated by primary health care services, however, remains incomplete.
We therefore recommend an integrated approach to injury data registration, in which injuries in the primary and specialist health care sectors are considered jointly and appropriately supplemented by data from other sources.
Erratum for the report «Accidents and injuries in Norway/Skadebildet i Norge (report 2014:2)»
We have found an error in the report, and this erratum contains the changes made to correct for this error. An error occurred for patients with treatment for injuries in both the primary health care services and at hospitals. This resulted in a higher amount of patients in this group, and a lower amount of patients that only had treatment in the primary health care services, or only had treatment at hospitals. The overall amount of patients with injuries is therefore higher, with about 600 000 each year.
Page 8 - Summary
The fifth paragraph in the report originally read as follows:
“National registry data indicate that approximately 540 000 people are injured annually in Norway. This estimate includes both accidental injuries and injuries caused by assault or self-harm. About 2 500 people die from their injuries, whereas roughly 100 000 are taken directly to hospitals for treatment. The largest group of patients (approximately 250 000) are handled by primary health care services (e.g., general practitioners) without need for further treatment.”
This section should read:
“National registry data indicate that approximately 600 000 people are injured annually in Norway. This estimate includes both accidental injuries and injuries caused by assault or self-harm. About 2 500 people die from their injuries, whereas roughly 170 000 are taken directly to hospitals for treatment. The largest group of patients (approximately 317 000) are handled by primary health care services (e.g., general practitioners) without need for further treatment.”
Norwegian Public Health Institute 23.6.2017