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Epidemiology of adolescent trauma in England: a review of TARN data 2008–2017


Objectives Trauma contributes significantly to adolescent morbidity and mortality. We aimed to ascertain the epidemiology of adolescent trauma to inform prevention strategies.

Methods Data were abstracted from TARN (Trauma Audit Research Network) from English sites over a 10-year period (2008–2017). Adolescents were defined as 10–24 completed years. Descriptive statistical analysis was used in this study.

Results There were 40 680 recorded cases of adolescent trauma. The majority were male (77.3%) and aged 16–24 years old (80.5%). There was a 2.6-fold increase during the study time frame (p<0.0001) in the total annual number of cases reported to TARN. To account for increasing hospital participation, the unit trauma cases per hospital per year was used, noting an increasing trend (p=0.048). Road traffic collision (RTC) was the leading cause of adolescent trauma (50.3%). Pedestrians (41.2%) and cyclists (32.6%) were more prevalent in the 10–15 year group, while drivers (22.9%) and passengers (17.8%) predominated in the 16–24 year group. Intentional injury was reported in 20.7% (alleged assault in 17.2% and suspected self-harm in 3.5%). This was more prevalent in the 16–24 year group. The proportion of trauma reported due to violence has increased with stabbings increasing from 6.9% in 2008 to 10.2% in 2017 (p<0.0001). Evidence of alcohol or drug use was recorded in 20.1% of cases. There was an increase in the number treated in major trauma centres (45.7% 2008 vs 63.5% 2017, p<0.0001). Trauma was more likely to occur between 08:00 and 00:00, at weekends and between April and October. Overall mortality rate was 4.1%. Those with a known psychiatric diagnosis had a higher mortality (6.3% vs 4.4%, p<0.001).

Conclusions RTCs and intentional injuries are leading aetiologies. Healthcare professionals and policy-makers need to prioritise national preventative public health measures and early interventions to reduce the incidence of trauma in this vulnerable age group.

  • emergency care systems
  • paediatric emergency med
  • paediatric injury
  • trauma, epidemiology
  • trauma, research

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