New Poll: Many Don't Know Injury Is #1 Killer of Young Americans

Results Suggest Injury Is Invisible Public Health Epidemic
Wednesday, June 29, 2005

WASHINGTON—June 29, 2005—Injury is the number one killer of Americans between the ages of one and 45. Yet fewer than half of Americans (44%) named injury of any type as the leading killer for this age group, in a nationwide poll. Research!America and SafeUSA commissioned the poll to explore public attitudes and knowledge about injury.

Unintentional injuries killed 50,000 Americans aged 45 and younger in 2002, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, which is as many people as travel through Washington Dulles Airport each day. Intentional injuries-suicide and homicide-caused 30,000 violence-related deaths in 2002 in this same age group.

The Research!America/SafeUSA poll sought to gauge Americans' knowledge about the leading causes of death in younger people. One-third (35%) of Americans correctly named car crashes as the leading cause of death. Others incorrectly identified heart attacks (18%) and cancer (16%) as the leading cause of death for those 45 and younger; these actually represent the third and second leading causes, respectively. Drunk driving (6%) and violence, firearms and physical abuse (2%) were other injury-related causes of deaths cited in survey responses.

The public's limited awareness of the magnitude of the injury problem is disturbing and surprising, according to Research!America and SafeUSA, since in the survey, more than 50% of Americans say they have been personally touched by an injury serious enough to require medical care.

"As this survey shows, we often fail to recognize that serious injuries are a public health problem that needs and deserves attention," said CDC Director Julie L. Gerberding, MD, MPH. "Efforts to promote safer driving, prevent suicides and encourage adoption of simple changes-like installing and maintaining smoke alarms-save lives and help prevent serious injuries. We need to make sure our advice and recommendations are visible, and we need to continue to improve the effectiveness of our health promotion efforts."

CDC is a member of the SafeUSA alliance. CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control is the lead federal agency for injury prevention.

Americans See Value in Investing in Injury Prevention

Although many do not know injury is the leading cause of death among younger Americans, fully 70% see research into new ways to prevent injuries as an effective use of taxpayer dollars. Research!America and SafeUSA note that eight in 10 (79%) say it is important for the United States to invest in new ways to prevent injury.

"These poll findings underscore that there is public support for broader injury prevention efforts nationally. By bringing together many relevant stakeholders under one umbrella, SafeUSA is facilitating that process," said Andrea Carlson Gielen, Sc.D., Sc.M., president of SafeUSA. "Releasing the poll results is the first step in a national SafeUSA campaign to increase America's investment in injury and violence prevention."

SafeUSA will announce the full poll results at their Safety Matters Seminar on violence prevention today, June 29, 11:45 a.m.-3:30 p.m., at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"Thanks to research, we know much about the causes of and ways to prevent injury-related death and disability in younger Americans," said Mary Woolley, president of Research!America. "The public clearly supports the translation of that research into real-life practice that will make a difference in their lives and the lives of their families."

About Us

SafeUSA is a not-for-profit alliance of private organizations and public agencies whose programs aim to eliminate unintentional and violent injury and death by making our nation's homes, schools, worksites, transportation areas and communities safer.

Research!America is a not-for-profit, membership-supported public education and advocacy alliance founded in 1989 to make medical and health research-including research to prevent disease, disability and injury and to promote health-a much higher national priority.

SafeUSA and Research!America commissioned the Charlton Research Company to conduct a telephone survey among 800 adults (18 and older) nationwide. Random-digit dialing methodology was used, and only residential numbers were included in the sample. The sample was proportionate to the country's demographics, including geography, gender and ethnicity. The survey, fielded in April 2005, has a theoretical sampling error of ± 3.5%.


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Media Contacts

Robert Shalett
Director of Communications 

Without research, there is no hope.
The Honorable Paul G. Rogers