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BACKGROUND: Non-fatal injury is an important public health problem but is thought to be difficult to quantify. This study aimed to estimate the extent of disability attributable to injury in the working age population, and its impact on quality of life, as well as identifying factors associated with an increased risk of disabling and non-disabling injury. METHODS: Secondary analysis was carried out of data obtained from a postal questionnaire survey of 8889 18-64-year-olds randomly selected from computerized general practitioner records in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Northamptonshire. RESULTS: Sixteen per cent of survey respondents reported an injury requiring medical attention in the previous 12 months, 5 per cent reported an injury that had disabled them for more than 1 month, and a further 5 per cent a longstanding disability as a result of injury. The point prevalence of disability as a result of injury was estimated to be 6.4 per cent. SF-36 scores suggest that the quality of life of people reporting injury-related disability was markedly reduced. Social class is associated less with injury morbidity than with injury mortality. Sport was the commonest cause of all injuries, and of disabling injuries. There was a dose-response relationship between vigorous exercise and injury. CONCLUSIONS: Injury is a significant cause of disability in the working age population. It is potentially feasible to monitor injury-related disability in postal questionnaire surveys. Estimates of health gain to be achieved from participation in sport should take account of injury-related disability.

Original publication




Journal article


J Public Health Med

Publication Date





27 - 33


Adolescent, Adult, Exercise, Female, Health Surveys, Humans, Incidence, Life Style, Male, Middle Aged, Prevalence, Public Health, Quality of Life, Risk Factors, Severity of Illness Index, Social Class, Surveys and Questionnaires, United Kingdom, Wounds and Injuries