Objective: To explore the scope for reducing the number of intentional injury deaths, hypothesizing that all European Union (EU) countries are able to match the experience of the country with the lowest mortality rate for intentional injuries.
Design: Intentional injury mortality data for the three last available years and denominator population estimates were obtained from the World Health Organisation mortality database for the 22 EU countries with more than one million population. To estimate the potential saving of lives, the yearly average age adjusted injury mortality rates were calculated. This issue done for children (0–14), adults (15–64), and elderly people (65 and over), both including and excluding deaths from undetermined cause.
Main outcome measures: Number of lives that might potentially be saved if all EU member states matched the lowest intentional injury rate reported by an EU member state.
Results: Over 73% of all intentional injury deaths could have been avoided if all EU countries matched the country with the lowest intentional injury mortality rate. EU member states would have suffered about 600 fewer intentional injury deaths in children, about 40 000 fewer adult deaths, and over 14 000 fewer intentional injury deaths in the elderly. This amounts to over 55 000 lives in a single year.
Conclusions: Many lives lost through injury might be saved if all countries were to achieve the lowest intentional injury mortality rates reported in the EU. How this theoretical observation might be translated into practice needs to be further explored as the international variation in intentional injury mortality rates in the EU results from a range of factors.
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