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Ethnic variations in falls and road traffic injuries resulting in hospitalisation or death in Scotland: the Scottish Health and Ethnicity Linkage Study

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G. Cézard, L. Gruer, M. Steiner, A. Douglas, C. Davis, D. Buchanan, S.V. Katikireddi, A. Millard, A. Sheikh, R. Bhopal

School/Research organisations



To investigate ethnic differences in falls and road traffic injuries (RTIs) in Scotland.

Study design

A retrospective cohort of 4.62 million people, linking the Scottish Census 2001, with self-reported ethnicity, to hospitalisation and death records for 2001–2013.


We selected cases with International Classification of Diseases–10 diagnostic codes for falls and RTIs. Using Poisson regression, age-adjusted risk ratios (RRs, multiplied by 100 as percentages) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated by sex for 10 ethnic groups with the White Scottish as reference. We further adjusted for country of birth and socio-economic status (SES).


During about 49 million person-years, there were 275,995 hospitalisations or deaths from fall-related injuries and 43,875 from RTIs. Compared with the White Scottish, RRs for falls were higher in most White and Mixed groups, e.g., White Irish males (RR: 131; 95% CI: 122–140) and Mixed females (126; 112–143), but lower in Pakistani males (72; 64–81) and females (72; 63–82) and African females (79; 63–99). For RTIs, RRs were higher in other White British males (161; 147–176) and females (156; 138–176) and other White males (119; 104–137) and females (143; 121–169) and lower in Pakistani females (74; 57–98). The ethnic variations differed by road user type, with few cases among non-White motorcyclists and non-White female cyclists. The RRs were minimally altered by adjustment for country of birth or SES.


We found important ethnic variations in injuries owing to falls and RTIs, with generally lower risks in non-White groups. Culturally related differences in behaviour offer the most plausible explanation, including variations in alcohol use. The findings do not point to the need for new interventions in Scotland at present. However, as the ethnic mix of each country is unique, other countries could benefit from similar data linkage-based research.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-38
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health
Early online date6 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

    Research areas

  • Ethnicity, Accidents, Falls, Road traffic injuries, Scotland

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