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Study 2: The incidence of severe paediatric trauma in Australia

April 2013 – June 2016
99% complete

Despite huge numbers of child injuries, there is no central and current information available to which health-care providers and policy-makers can refer which describes exactly how many children are injured, what causes the injuries, where the children come from, how long they are in hospital and how seriously they are injured.  This study is a major Australia-wide data linkage project that will for the first time define and describe the incidence and causes of severe paediatric injury.

Process and Status
An accurate and current ‘snapshot’ of the incidence of children’s injuries is required to inform injury prevention strategies, research priorities and trauma system design.  This study covers ten years of emergency department admissions in every public and private hospital in Australia and required over 50 applications to gain Ethics approvals.  Specifically, this study asks and answers the following questions;

  • Exactly how many children are injured each year and what is the extent of their injuries?
  • How is the incidence and severity of child injury changing over time in Australia?
  • For how long do severely injured children remain in hospital?
  • What are the primary causes of child injuries in Australia and how does injury incidence and severity vary across demographic and population sub-groups?

This Australia-wide data linkage that, for the first time defines and describes the incidence and causes of all severe paediatric injury has received ethics approval  from all Australian States/Territories and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (over 50 applications in total!).  This is a major milestone reached under the leadership and perseverance of Dr Rebecca Mitchell. We are now obtaining the data from each state – to date we have 50% and are hopeful for preliminary results by the end of 2014.

This study highlights the need to develop and maintain a National Paediatric Trauma Registry which will improve the ability to monitor pediatric injury causes and outcomes in Australia. It will also inform trauma quality improvement programs and improve outcomes for children and families.

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