A study published in JAMA indicates that injury deaths account for a large portion of the gap in life expectancy between the United States and other high-income countries.
The 3 largest causes of injury death in the U.S. are motor vehicle traffic crashes, firearm-related injuries, and drug poisonings. These causes alone account for over 100,000 deaths each year. Researchers estimated the contribution of the 3 causes of injury death to the gap in life expectancy in 2012 with the following 12 high-income countries that had similar levels of development and quality of vital registration: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Andrew Fenelon, PhD, of the National Center for Health Statistics, and colleagues used data from the U.S. National Vital Statistics System and the World Health Organization Mortality Database to calculate death rates by age, sex, and cause for the included countries.
Study data showed men in the 12 comparison countries lived 2.2 years longer than U.S. men (78.6 vs. 76.4 years) as well as women (83.4 vs. 81.2 years). Injury causes of death comprised 48% (1.02 years) of the life expectancy gap among men. Firearm-related injuries made up 21% of the gap, drug poisonings 14%, and motor vehicle traffic crashes 13%. For women, injury causes of death comprised 19% (0.42 years) of the life expectancy gap. Firearm-related injuries made up 4% of the gap, drug poisonings 9%, and motor vehicle traffic crashes 6%.
Death rates from the 3 injury causes in the U.S. exceeded those in each of the 12 comparison countries, making up 6% of deaths among men and 3% among women.
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