Understanding the epidemiology of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is essential to shape public health policy, implement prevention strategies, and justify allocation of resources toward research, education, and rehabilitation in TBI. There is not, to our knowledge, a systematic review of population-based studies addressing the epidemiology of TBI that includes all subtypes. We performed a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of the worldwide incidence of TBI.
A search was conducted on May 23, 2014, in Medline and EMBASE according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Abstracts were screened independently and in duplicate to identify original research. Study quality and ascertainment bias were assessed in duplicate using a previously published tool. Demographic data and incidence estimates from each study were recorded, along with stratification by age, gender, year of data collection, and severity.
The search strategy yielded 4944 citations. Two hundred and sixteen articles met criteria for full-text review; 144 were excluded. Hand searching resulted in ten additional articles. Eighty-two studies met all eligibility criteria. The pooled annual incidence proportion for all ages was 295 per 100,000 (95% confidence interval: 274-317). The pooled incidence rate for all ages was 349 (95% confidence interval: 96.2-1266) per 100,000 person-years. Incidence proportion and incidence rate were examined to see if associated with age, sex, country, or severity.
We conclude that most TBIs are mild and most TBIs occur in males among the adult population. The incidence of TBI varies widely by ages and between countries. Despite being an important medical, economic, and social problem, the global epidemiology of TBI is still not well-characterized in the current literature. Understanding the incidence of TBI, particularly mild TBI, remains challenging because of nonstandardized reporting among neuroepidemiological studies.