The causes and consequences of injury in students at UK institutes of higher education

D Sumilo, S Stewart-Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Injuries are the leading cause of mortality and also an important cause of permanent disability in young people living in developed countries. This study aimed to inform injury prevention programmes by assessing the incidence of injury and disabling injury, and identifying factors predicting injury in students at institutes of higher education, an under-researched group with regard to injury studies.

METHODS: Secondary analysis of data obtained from a postal questionnaire survey of 1208 students at three institutions in the UK.

RESULTS: Eighteen percent (222/1208) of students reported at least one injury requiring medical attention in the last year. Males and younger students were at greater risk, as were those who reported 'seeking out risky activities because they enjoyed potential danger'. Seventy-nine percent of reported injuries caused some degree of, at least temporary, disability. Four percent of students reported an injury in the last year that interfered with studies, work or other regular daily activities for at least 1 month. Team sports increased the risk of injury by a factor of 2.5 independently of age, gender and risk-taking attitudes. Sport/physical activity injuries were much more likely to be disabling than injuries attributable to other causes.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a need for injury prevention programmes among students at institutes of higher education. Programmes need to disseminate the risk of disabling injury, particularly that attributable to participation in sport/physical activity. There is an urgent need for those working on injury prevention to collaborate with those working on other aspects of health promotion to define the net health gain from participation in sport/physical activity and to develop coherent public health messages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-31
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Program Development
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Universities
  • Wounds and Injuries
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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