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The Epidemiology of Hospitalized Head Injury in British Columbia, Canada

  • Leah A. Phillips (a1), Don C. Voaklander (a1), Colleen Drul (a1) and Karen D. Kelly (a2)



This descriptive study seeks to identify the incidence rates of head injuries in a large Canadian province, given incident cases for a ten year period. It describes cases in terms of age standardized rates, demographics, and health care utilization.


The analyses were done using descriptive statistics. Incidence rates were calculated using the direct method. The indicators of hospital resource utilization were: mean length of hospital stay, number of intensive care unit (ICU) stays, and mean length of stay in an ICU.


In the ten year period, British Columbia saw 48,753 admissions due to an incident head injury. The most common head injury diagnosis was an “Intracranial” injury. The year with the highest total age standardized rate was 1991/92 (174.18/100 000). The mean length of hospital stay was 7.4 days. Ten percent had an ICU stay and the mean length of stay was 4.4 days (± 4.8). The diagnosis with the longest mean length of stay was a “Fractured Skull” while of the top five E-code categories; “Motor Vehicle Traffic” had the highest mean length of stay with 12.2 days.


Our study provides a much needed analysis of the incidence of head injuries in British Columbia. These rates can be compared to other provinces using the 2001 Canadian population as the standardized population. Our results indicate that there are certain “at risk” groups that warrant attention, in particular, younger men with lower socioeconomic standing. Indicators of health care utilization presented in the study should generate policy discussions.

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Corresponding author

School of Public Health, University of Alberta, 4075 RTF, 8308-114st, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2E1, Canada


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