BACKGROUND: Geospatial analysis is increasingly being used to evaluate the design and effectiveness of trauma systems, but there are no metrics to describe the geographic distribution of incidents. The aim of this study, therefore, was to evaluate the feasibility and utility of using spatial analysis to characterize, at scale, the geospatial profile of an injured population.
METHODS: This is a prospective national cohort study of all trauma patients attended to by the Scottish Ambulance Service in a complete year (between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014). Incident location and severity were collected at source. Incident distribution was evaluated using geostatistical techniques.
RESULTS: There were 80,391 recorded incidents involving traumatic injury. Incident density was highest in the central Southern part of the country and along the East coast, broadly following the population distribution and road network. The overall distribution was highly clustered, and centered on the central Southern and Eastern parts of the country. When analyzed by triage category, the distribution of incidents triaged to major trauma center care was slightly less clustered than that of incidents triaged to trauma unit or local emergency hospital care, but the spread was similar. When analyzed by type of injury, assaults and falls were more clustered than incidents relating to traffic and transportation.
CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates the feasibility and power of describing the geographic distribution of a group of injured patients. The methodology described has potential application for injury surveillance and trauma system design and evaluation.
- geospatial modeling
- trauma systems
- health services research
- trauma epidemiology