Nonfatal Injuries in Victoria: an overview

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #36 - 1992

Authors: J. Langlois, C. Hawkins, M. Penny, I. Brumen & R. Saldana

Full report in .pdf format [4.6MB]


This report provides a basic overview of non-fatal injuries in Victoria resulting in hospital admission and those presenting to the emergency departments of hospitals participating in the Victorian Injury Surveillance System (VISS). For hospitalized injuries, an overview is presented of the leading causes, frequencies, age- and sex- specific rates and yearly trends. The causes of non-admitted presentations to VISS hospitals are provided to allow comparisons with injury hospitalizations for the under 15 years age group. The report recommends more detailed studies of the epidemiology of injuries to adolescents, young adults and Victorians in the middle years. It also recommends that further research efforts should focus on using these and other injury data as baseline data for setting injury prevention goals and for monitoring the effects of interventions.

Executive Summary

Injury Hospitalisations in Victoria, 1986-87 to 1990-91

  • Falls accounted for 31 percent of injury hospitalisations and were the leading cause for all ages combined; the second leading cause was motor-vehicle traffic injuries, accounting for 15 percent.
  • People aged 65 and older had by far the highest rates of hospitalised injury; 69 percent of the hospitalisations to older people were due to falls.
  • Compared to other age groups, older people also had high rates of hospitalisation for pedestrian injury and fires/scalds/burns. However, 39% of all pedestrian hospitalisations occurred to people below age 20 and 34% of burn injuries occurred to children under age 5.
  • Bum injury hospitalisation rates were highest for children under 5 years, followed by the oldest old.
  • Falls were by far the leading cause of hospitalised injury among children aged less than 15, followed by motor vehicle traffic injuries and unintentional poisonings. Poisoning hospitalisation rates were highest for children aged 1 to 4.
  • As compared with other age groups, young adult males had much higher rates of hospitalisation for intentional injuries inflicted by others, even higher than for motorcyclist injuries and nearly as high as for motor vehicle occupants.
  • Intentional injury hospitalisation rates showed a consistent slight increase over the five-year study period.
  • Unintentional injury rates tended toward a slight decrease. Among the trends for specific causes of injury, most notable was the decrease in hospitalisation rates for motor vehicle traffic injury, with the greatest reduction for motor vehicle occupants.

Injuries to Children Under 15 Years of Age Presenting to the Emergency Departments of VISS Hospitals, 1989 to 1991 - not admitted.

  • When selected causes of injury were compared, falls accounted for a large proportion of emergency department presentations than hospital admissions; motor vehicle traffic injuries, poisonings, fires and bums, and choking incidents accounted for larger proportions of hospital admissions than emergency department presentations.
  • Fails accounted for 44 percent of the injury presentations to children under age 15; sporting injuries, some of which were also classified as falls, accounted for 10 percent. Of selected causes examined in this study, poisonings and Motor Vehicle traffic injuries were the second leading causes.
  • Among boys aged 10 to 14, sporting injuries accounted for 30 percent of emergency department presentations for injury, and increased as a proportion of injuries to all boys.
  • Since 1989, motor vehicle traffic injuries have decreased as a proportion of all injuries presenting to emergency departments. Nearly two thirds of the children who presented at VISS emergency departments with motor-vehicle traffic injuries were vehicle occupants.


Further injury research efforts should focus on:

  • improving the potential for describing the causes of VISS emergency department presentations in broad, mutually exclusive categories, perhaps through E-coding, to allow comparison with other injury data sources.
  • describing in greater detail the epidemiology of injuries to adolescents, young adults, and Victorians in the middle years.
  • using these and other injury data, including information obtained locally, as baseline data for setting injury prevention goals and for monitoring the effects of interventions.

Sponsor: National Better Health Program