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Economic burden of injuries in South Korea
  1. Seung-Ji Lim1,2,
  2. Woo-Jin Chung1,2,
  3. Woo-Hyun Cho2,3
  1. 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Graduate School of Public Health, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  2. 2Institute of health Services Research, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  3. 3Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  1. Correspondence to Seung-Ji Lim, Department of Health Policy and Management, Graduate School of Public Health and Institute of Health Services Research, Yonsei University, 134 Shinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 120-752, Republic of Korea; sjlim{at}; limseungji{at}


Background Studies on the cost of injury are useful in setting research and policy priorities and it is valuable to observe differences in the economic burden of injuries across countries.

Objective To estimate the treated prevalence rate, economic burden and gender- and age-specific costs of injuries in Korea in 2006.

Design Annual direct healthcare costs associated with injuries were estimated from the National Health Insurance, Medical Aid and Automobile Insurance databases. Annual direct non-health costs were estimated for transport and caregiver's costs. Indirect costs were estimated for premature death, absence from work and disability. Costs were adjusted to 2006 levels using the healthcare component of the Consumer Price Index.

Main outcome measures Prevalence-based direct costs, incidence-based indirect costs and total costs for injuries, stratified by gender, age group and type of injury.

Results The treated prevalence rate of injury in 2006 of the Korean population was 26.5 per 100, resulting in an annual economic burden of $39 837 million ($4703 million in direct and $35 134 million in indirect costs). The cost of medical treatment associated with injuries accounted for 9.5% of the total health expenditure in Korea. The cost of premature death was the largest contributor to the total and automobile-related injuries accounted for 30.3% of total costs.

Conclusions The estimates were considerably understated because they did not include losses in household production and quality of life. Nevertheless, the size and main components of the injury burden were identified; this information should aid decision-making about research priorities and improve monitoring of the effects of policy initiatives.

  • South Korea
  • cost-of-illness
  • prevalence
  • wounds and injuries
  • policy
  • public health

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  • Funding This study is funded by the Korea Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the institutional review board of Yonsei University Health System, Seoul, Korea.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.