General Practice Injury Surveillance in the Latrobe Valley

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #113 - 1997

Authors: L. Day, G. Valuri & J. Ozanne-Smith

Full report in .pdf format [500KB]


The Extended Latrobe Valley Injury Surveillance (ELVIS) project aimed to collect detailed injury data for a defined geographic region from a high proportion of general practitioners for a full twelve months. Injury data was collected over a 12 month period from 7/11/94 to 6/11/95 by general practitioners participating in the Latrobe Valley research network of the Central West Gippsland Division of General Practice. Data was collected by the manual recording of injury presentations on a form, sections of which were completed by the patient and the general practitioner. Data completeness and quality were assessed. The practitioner participation rate was 96.5%, and the injury capture rate was 77%.

There were 5995 injuries recorded for the 12 month period. Injuries occurred most frequently in the 10-14 year age group, with a broad peak across the ages of 5-24 years. The male : female ratio for all injuries was 1.6 to 1. A third of the injuries occurred in the home and slightly more than one third (37%) occurred during leisure activities. The major injury cause was falls (24%). The most common injuries were sprains (21%), bruising (17%), and lacerations (19%). Follow up or referral was required after initial treatment in 36% of cases.

Comparisons were made with Victorian Injury Surveillance system emergency department injury surveillance data from the Latrobe Regional Hospital, and with a 1994 national general practice survey. An emergency department to general practice ratio of 1.2 : 1.0 was derived after adjusting for the respective capture rates. There were statistically significant differences for all the variables tested between general practice and emergency department presentations. The differences were larger than 5% for age group, location, nature of injury, body part injured, and treatment required. There were no statistically significant differences between the Latrobe Valley and the national general practice injury presentations. The differences were larger than 5% for six of the seven variables examined. There were statistically significant differences for location and external cause of injury between the full 12 months of Latrobe Valley general practice data and a combined 4 months of the same data selected to reflect the seasonal variation of injury patterns. None of these differences were greater than 4%.

The results of this study support the conclusion of others that the spectrum of injury seen in emergency departments can not necessarily be generalised to general practice. Firm conclusions regarding the representativeness of Latrobe Valley general practice injury presentations cannot be drawn from this study. Periodic surveillance may be suitable for the identification of overall patterns of injury, but may not be sensitive enough to detect emerging or new injury problems.

In addition to the direct results, this study has had a number of other significant outcomes including the production of a guide to computerised injury data collection in general practice, provision of local data for injury prevention purposes, and increased use of general practice data in injury research studies.

Sponsors: Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health & National Health and Medical Research Council