Effective interventions for unintentional injuries: a systematic review and mortality impact assessment among the poorest billion

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The Lancet Global Health








© 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access article under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Background: Between 1990 and 2015, the global injury mortality declined, but in countries where the poorest billion live, injuries are becoming an increasingly prevalent cause of death. The vulnerability of this population requires immediate attention from policy makers to implement effective interventions that lessen the burden of injuries in these countries. Our aim was two-fold; first, to review all the evidence on effective interventions for the five main types of unintentional injury; and second, to estimate the potential number of lives saved by effective injury interventions among the poorest billion. Methods: For our systematic review we used references in the Disability Control Priorities third edition, and searched PubMed and the Cochrane database for papers published until Sept 10, 2016, using a comprehensive search strategy to find interventions for the five major causes of unintentional injuries: road traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns, and poisoning. Studies were included if they presented evidence with significant effects sizes for any outcome; no inclusions or exclusions made on the basis of where the study was carried out (ie, low-income, middle-income, or high-income country). Then we used data from the Global Burden of Disease 2015 study and a Monte Carlo simulation technique to estimate the potential annual attributable number of lives saved among the poorest billion by these evidence-based injury interventions. We estimated results for 84 countries where the poorest billion live. Findings: From the 513 papers identified, 47 were eligible for inclusion. We identified 11 interventions that had an effect on injury mortality. For road traffic deaths, the most successful interventions in preventing deaths are speed enforcement (>80 000 lives saved per year) and drink-driving enforcement (>60 000 lives saved per year). Interventions potentially most effective in preventing deaths from drowning are formal swimming lessons for children younger than 14 years (>25 000 lives saved per year) and the use of crèches to supervise younger children (younger than 5 years; >10 000 lives saved per year). We did not find sufficient evidence on interventions for other causes of unintentional injuries (poisoning, burns, and falls) to run similar simulations. Interpretation: Based on the little available evidence, key interventions have been identified to prevent lives lost from unintentional injuries among the poorest billion. This Article provides guidance to national authorities on evidence-based priority interventions that can reduce the burden of injuries among the most vulnerable members of the population. We also identify an important gap in knowledge on the effectiveness and the mortality impacts of injury interventions. Funding: Partly supported by the Fogarty International Center of the US National Institutes of Health (Chronic Consequences of Trauma, Injuries, Disability Across the Lifespan: Uganda; #D43TW009284).