Interpersonal violence as a major contributor towards the skewed burden of trauma in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  • C Lewis
  • D Wood


Background. Trauma is one of the foremost causes of death worldwide, but there is a paucity of data on demographics and injury patterns in developing countries.
Objectives. To quantify and describe the major trauma burden at a regional hospital in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa (SA), over a 5-year period.
Methods. Ngwelezane Hospital is a large regional hospital in northern KZN. A database is maintained of all major trauma patients admitted to the Emergency Department (ED) resuscitation unit. Statistical analysis was performed to quantify the burden of trauma and analyse trends in these data.
Results. Over a 5-year period, 3 735 major trauma patients were admitted to the ED resuscitation unit. Analysis showed a male predominance, with a mean patient age of 28.6 years. An average of 62 patients per month were admitted, the rate peaking over the holiday seasons. Trauma secondary to interpersonal violence (IPV) predominated. A disproportionately high level of pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions (PMVCs) in relation to total road traffic collisions was noted. Blunt force trauma secondary to motor vehicle collisions was the leading cause of death, while blunt force trauma secondary to PMVCs carried the highest mortality rate.
Conclusion. This study highlights the high incidences of both IPV and PMVCs typical of trauma in an SA setting. The demographics and injury patterns noted may be used to drive public health interventions to address this burden of trauma.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135