UK injuries' impact 2.6 times higher than expected


A Nottingham University study has found that injuries in the UK are having a far bigger effect on peoples' lives than previously thought.

Between September 2005 and April 2007, researchers studied 1,517 patients from hospitals in Swansea, Nottingham, Bristol and Guildford, most of whom had suffered an accidental injury at home.

The patients, averagely aged 37, were recovering from a range of injuries, including fractures, dislocations, cuts, bruises and abrasions, sprains, burns and scalds, and head, eye, chest and abdominal injuries.

To summarise the impact of the injuries, researchers used Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), which combine the years of productive life lost due to disability after an injury with the years of life lost due to premature death.

The lead researcher, Prof Denise Kendrick, said that while uncertainties remain, the study suggests that injury-related DALYs are 2.6 times greater than previously estimated.

"Even if we are very conservative and assume that everyone we were unable to follow up had completely recovered from their injury, the estimate of DALYs would still be 1.6 times greater than earlier estimates," said Prof Kendrick.

The researchers and other experts also believe the study's findings are globally relevant and could have severe implications for government health policies.

"The findings suggest that if the figures revealed by the UK study were repeated throughout the world, injuries could account for up to 25% of global DALYs rather than the 17% previously thought," said Lisa Sheldon, Head of Personal Injury in Manchester based Simpson Millar LLP. "Since UK healthcare policy is based on previous estimates of the impact of injury, provision may now be inadequate."

In collaboration with the Universities of the West of England, Loughborough and Surrey, the Nottingham researchers are presently working on another 5-year study on the impact of injuries.

This will measure the impact of injuries on people's physical, psychological, social and occupational wellbeing at 1, 2, 4 and 12 months after injury. It will also assess health and social care costs and the impact on recovery of psychological problems.

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