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How serious are they? The use of data linkage to explore different definitions of serious road crash injuries

Watson, A, Vallmuur, K, Watson, B (Peer reviewed)

Road Trauma/Rehabilitation

ARSC conference 2015

Over recent years, the focus in road safety has shifted towards a greater understanding of serious injuries in addition to fatalities. Police reported crash data are often the primary source of crash information; however, the definition of serious injury within these data is not consistent across jurisdictions and may not be accurately operationalised. This study examined the linkage of police-reported road crash data with hospital data to explore the potential for linked data to enhance the quantification of serious injury. Data from the Queensland Road Crash Database (QRCD), the Queensland Hospital Admitted Patients Data Collection (QHAPDC), Emergency Department Information System (EDIS), and the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit (QISU) for the year 2009 were linked. Five different estimates of serious road crash injury were produced. Results showed that there was a large amount of variation in the estimates of the number and profile of serious road crash injuries depending on the definition used (from 670 to 10,650). The results also showed that as the definition of serious injury becomes more precise, vulnerable road users become more prominent. These results have major implications in terms of how serious injuries are identified for reporting purposes. Depending on the definitions used, the calculation of cost and understanding of the impact of serious injuries would vary greatly. This study has shown how data linkage can be used to investigate issues of data quality. It has also demonstrated the potential improvements to the understanding of the road safety problem, particularly serious injury, by conducting data linkage