New Report Details Injuries in America–the place, type, and cause of 41 million injuries annually

Contact: NCHS/CDC Public Affairs (301) 458-4800


Series 10, No. 202. Injury and Poisoning Episodes and Conditions: National Health Interview Survey, 1997. 46 pp. (PHS) 2000-1530. [PDF – 1.1 MB]

More injuries occur in the home than any other place in America, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC, which provides a comprehensive overview of the extent and type of non-fatal injury and poisoning episodes in the United States.

Of the 34 million episodes in 1997–resulting in 41 million specific injuries–almost a quarter took place inside the home. While women were more than twice as likely to be injured in the home, overall, men had a 21 percent higher rate of injuries. Men were more likely than women to be injured at sports facilities, industrial/construction sites, and at school.

The report, “Injury and Poisoning Episodes and Conditions: Results from the 1997 National Health Interview Survey,” uses improved methodology to produce more detailed and accurate estimates of injury than available previously. Through computer-assisted interviewing the survey gathered data on all medically attended injuries and poisonings.

The survey found that injury rates were highest among older Americans, those 65 and over and teenagers and young adults, 12-21 years of age. Injury rates for those over 65 were higher for women, but for those 12-21 the rates for males were almost twice that for females. Falls were the leading cause of injury, especially common among older women. The next leading cause of injury–being struck by or against a person or object–was more frequently reported by young men ages 12-21, who had a rate 3.5 times higher than females of the same age.

Transportation-related injuries were more frequent among those 12-44 years of age. About 75 percent of the transportation-related injuries involved motor vehicle traffic on public roads or highways. The report examines injury rates by type of vehicle–passenger car, light trucks and large trucks–to find that three-quarters of those injured were wearing seatbelts or were buckled into a safety seat.

In 1997, sprains and strains were the injury conditions most frequently reported followed by open wounds, fractures and contusions. Information on the site of the injury is now available and shows that injuries to the upper and lower extremities were most common.

To gain additional information on the circumstances of the injury, respondents in the survey were asked about the activity engaged in at the time of the injury. Leading this list were leisure activities (22 percent of all injuries), followed by paid work (19 percent). Some 14 percent of those injured were involved in sports at the time of the injury and another 10 percent were working around the house or in the yard.

About 2.5 million of those injured were hospitalized, 3.3 million had time off from school, and 10 million lost time from work. After the injury, about 7 percent needed help in handling their daily routine, such as household chores and shopping, and about 6 percent needed help with personal care.

The report, by Margaret Warner, Ph.D., Patricia Barnes, M.A., and Lois Fingerhut, M.A., describes in detail the new methodology used to collect injury data in the redesigned National Health Interview Survey and the differences from procedures previously used. The report is available on the NCHS website and will be published in the Vital and Health Statistics Series (Series 10, No. 202).