Exploring data sources for road traffic injury in Cameroon: Collection and completeness of police records, newspaper reports, and a hospital trauma registry

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Abstract

Background.

Road traffic injury surveillance systems are a cornerstone of organized efforts at injury control. Although high-income countries rely on established trauma registries and police databases, in low- and middle-income countries, the data source that provides the best collection of road traffic injury events in specific low- and middle-income country contexts without mature surveillance systems is unclear. The objective of this study was to compare the information available on road traffic injuries in 3 data sources used for surveillance in the sub-Saharan African country of Cameroon, providing potential insight on data sources for road traffic injury surveillance in low- and middle-income countries. We assessed the number of events captured and the information available in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 3 separate sources of data on road traffic injuries: trauma registry, police records, and newspapers.

Methods.

Data were collected from a single-hospital trauma registry, police records, and the 6 most widely circulated newspapers in Yaoundé during a 6-month period in 2009. The number of road traffic injury events, mortality, and other variables included commonly in injury surveillance systems were recorded. We compared these sources using descriptive analysis.

Results.

Hospital, police, and newspaper sources recorded 1,686, 273, and 480 road traffic injuries, respectively. The trauma registry provided the most complete data for the majority of variables explored; however, the newspaper data source captured 2, mass casualty, train crash events unrecorded in the other sources. Police data provided the most complete information on first responders to the scene, missing in only 7%.

Conclusion.

Investing in the hospital-based trauma registry may yield the best surveillance for road traffic injuries in some low- and middle-income countries, such as Yaoundé, Cameroon; however, police and newspaper reports may serve as alternative data sources when specific information is needed.

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