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What is an injury?

Injury is the physical or mental harm to a person resulting from intentional or unintentional contact with an object, substance or another person.

Why is injury a serious public health concern?

The burden that injury places on the health care system through disability, premature death and trauma makes injury a serious public health issue.

In Western Australia:

  • Over three people die everyday due to an injury-related incident.1
  • One in six people report an injury that required treatment by a health professional every year.2
  • Injury was the leading underlying cause of death for individuals aged 1 – 54 years.1

In 2012 there were 227,000 injury events in WA, resulting in 93 injuries per 1,000 people.3 The total costs of these events was $9.6 billion, with loss of quality of life accounting for 64.7% of these costs, 19.8% due to loss of paid productivity, 12.3% health sector costs and 3.2% long term care costs.3

The impact that injury has on all Western Australians reinforces the importance of focusing on the preventable and predictable nature of injury and the need to make injury prevention a priority. Also the wide range of health areas within injury contributes to the need for an integrated approach to injury prevention by a range of health sectors.

To “know” more about the incidence of specific injury topics in WA, visit our eight topic pages via the menu to the right.

How does injury differ from disease?

There are common characteristics between disease and illness, however there are also factors that differentiate the two. Disease (generally though not always) happens over a longer period, whereas injury generally results in an immediate impact on the individual.4

Injury can result from unintentional and intentional actions, while in comparison acquiring a disease on purpose is extremely rare.4

Disease is caused by pathology (e.g. hormonal imbalances like in diabetes / non-communicable diseases, or infections like with communicable diseases). Due to the pathological connections to disease some diseases can be prevented through vaccination, in comparison susceptibility to injury is universal.4

What is the difference between safety and injury?

‘Safe’ and ‘injury’ can be described as being on a continuum, with safe being the optimal and an injury being the least optimal.

Both safety and health are fundamental rights. Just as health is a broader concept than disease, safety is a much broader concept than injury.

Safety is ‘a state in which hazards and conditions leading to physical, psychological or material harm are controlled in order to preserve the health and well-being of individuals and the community’.4

Visit the Learn page, for a variety of information and tools to prevent injury.

Resources

Injury Matters, Evidence Bank

Injury Matters, Injury in WA resources

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Injury in Australia

Kidsafe WA, Childhood Injury Bulletin Annual Report: 2020-2021

WA Department of Health, Incidence and Cost of Injury in Western Australia

References

1.    Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3303.0 Causes of Death, Western Australia, 2020. (2021).

2.    Epidemiology Directorate. Health and Wellbeing of Adults in Western Australia 2020, Overview and Trends. https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/~/media/Corp/Documents/Reports-and-publications/Population-surveys/Health-and-Wellbeing-of-Adults-in-WA-2020.pdf (2021).

3.    Hendrie, D., Miller, T., Randall, S., Brameld, K., & Moorin, R. (2016). Incidence and costs of injury in WA 2012. Perth: Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate Department of Health WA.

4.    Guohau, L., & Baker, C. (2012). Injury Research: Theories, Methods, and Approaches. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.

Find out more

The Know Injury program is provided by Injury Matters and funded by the WA Department of Health.