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Communicating consequences with costs: a commentary on Corso et al's cost of injury
  1. Rebecca Spicer1,
  2. Kirsten Vallmuur2
  1. 1Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Calverton, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety—Queensland (CARRS-Q), Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rebecca Spicer, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 11720 Beltsville Drive, Suite 900, Calverton, MD 20705, USA; spicer{at}pire.org

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Estimating the economic burden of injuries is important for setting priorities, allocating scarce health resources and planning cost-effective prevention activities. As a metric of burden, costs account for multiple injury consequences—death, severity, disability, body region, nature of injury—in a single unit of measurement. In a 1989 landmark report to the US Congress, Rice et al1 estimated the lifetime costs of injuries in the USA in 1985. By 2000, the epidemiology and burden of injuries had changed enough that the US Congress mandated an update, resulting in a book on the incidence and economic burden of injury in the USA.2 To make these findings more accessible to the larger realm of scientists and practitioners and to provide a template for conducting the same economic burden analyses in other countries and settings, a summary3 was published in Injury Prevention. Corso et al reported that, between 1985 and 2000, injury rates declined roughly 15%. The estimated lifetime cost of these injuries declined 20%, totalling US$406 billion, including US$80 billion in medical costs and US$326 billion in lost productivity. While incidence reflects problem size, the relative burden of injury is better expressed using costs.

Corso et al's costs have predominantly been used to express the burden of injury. In …

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