Figure 2.2 Burden of injury: United States, 1995. Source: Fingerhut and Warner, 1997.

Measuring the overall magnitude of injury as a major public health problem is crucial in the development of a rational basis for resource allocation, for defining strategies for prevention interventions, and for determining their outcomes. As surveillance efforts have continued to improve, we have gained increasing knowledge about the magnitude of the injury problem and the costs to society; however, knowledge is sparse regarding nonfatal injuries, the settings in which they occur, and the total costs associated with injury morbidity.

This chapter focuses on the impact of injury in terms of mortality, morbidity, and societal costs. Patterns of injury over time and within and across specific demographic subgroups are briefly described. The statistics and discussion presented in this chapter are based primarily on the work of Fingerhut and Warner (1997), unless otherwise noted.


In 1995, 90,402 people died from unintentional injuries2 (61 percent of all injury fatalities, at a rate of 34.4 deaths per 100,000 persons); there were 22,552


Excludes 2,918 deaths due to adverse events.

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