Although the causes of head injury, the population at risk and approaches to prevention and treatment are continually evolving, there is little information about how these are reflected in patterns of mortality over time. We used population based comprehensive data uniquely available in Scotland to investigate changes in the total numbers of deaths from 1974 to 2012, as well as the rates of head injury death, from different causes, overall and in relation to age and gender. Total mortality fell from an annual average of 503 to 339 with a corresponding annual decrease in rate from 9.6 to 6.4 per 100,000 population, the decline substantially occurring between 1974 and 1990. Deaths in children fell strikingly but rose in older people. Deaths in males fell to a greater extent than females but remained at a higher rate overall. Initially, a transport accident accounted for most deaths but these fell by 80 from 325 per year to 65 per year over the 39 year period. Deaths from falling and all other causes did not decline, coming to outnumber transport accident deaths by 1998, which accounts for the overall absence of change in total mortality in recent years. In order to reduce mortality in the future, more effective measures to prevent falls are needed and these strategies will vary in younger adults (where alcohol is often a factor), and in older adults where infirmity can be a cause. In addition, measures to sustain reductions in transport accidents need to be maintained and further developed.
- road traffic accidents
- traumatic brain injury