Objective, Credible US Data on Causes of Injuries

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Objective, credible U.S. data on injuries treated in hospital emergency departments are available through the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program (NEISS AIP). The NHAMCS began in 1992 and built upon the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) administered since 1973. The NEISS AIP began in 2000 and expanded the NEISS, a survey of consumer-product-related injuries administered since 1972. Both the NHAMCS and the NEISS are large, nationally representative injury surveys. U.S. government organizations with well-established and well-institutionalized statistical expertise administer these injury surveys on an ongoing basis for broad public purposes. Because narrow statistical interests are less able to influence their design and administration, the NHAMCS and NEISS provide more credible injury statistics than injury statistics from surveys or studies that particular, narrow interests generate.

Injuries treated in hospital emergency departments are a relatively credible, objective measure of injury. Both the NHAMCS and NEISS collect information closely associated with the provision of emergency medical care for the injured subject. This information has immediate actionable implications for both the subject and for the information gatherer. Injuries treated in hospital emergency departments are acute physical injuries for which the injured person seeks or is taken to hospital emergency medical care. Men’s tendency to seek less medical care than women may bias injury-related visit statistics downward for men relative to women. However, other measures of injury, such as from surveys asking persons about being injured or feeling hurt, are much more dependent on social constructions of salient memory, on dominant conventions of feeling, and on survey framing, survey prompting, and survey answer-processing. Making objectively unfalsifiable claims about injury is relatively difficult with respect to injuries treated in hospital emergency departments.

NHAMCS and NEISS data indicate that prevalent public statements about domestic violence against women are grotesquely false relative to objective, credible statistics on domestic violence as a cause of injury to women.

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