How to find and interpret data

March 2013

Commissioners need access to good data to make the case for investment in child accident prevention, to design effective programmes and to evaluate prevention activities. But getting hold of the right data isn’t always a straightforward task. This section explores the data issues commissioners come up against and ways to overcome them.

What data should I look for?

Deaths, hospital admissions and A&E attendances

The main aim of your data analysis should be to learn more about serious and preventable accidents which cause severe injury, disability and death. A&E attendances include both minor and more serious injuries, while hospital admissions represent only the more serious injuries. Having timely access to robust data on hospital admissions is particularly important because of the new public health outcomes framework indicator on admissions caused by unintentional and deliberate injury in under 18s.

National data is a useful starting point for your work on child accident prevention. That’s because your local pattern of deaths and serious injuries is unlikely to differ significantly from the national picture.

Key national figures:

  • In England in 2011/12, there were 108,397 hospital admissions for children aged 0-14 years with accidental injuries.1
  • 143 under 15s died as a result of accidental injuries in England and Wales in 2011, including 68 children under 5 years old.2

You can find more national data on child accidents in our section on child accident statistics.

Demographics, geography and inequalities

Exploring demographic information and geographical trends within your local area will help you to identify which populations have the greatest need. Children from the most disadvantaged families are three times more likely to be admitted to hospital with serious accidental injuries and 13 times more likely to die in an accident.3,4 Our topic briefing on inequalities and deprivation includes ideas for investigating the links between childhood injury and deprivation.

Costs data

Our articles on the costs of child accidents provide statistics on the numbers of children affected by some of the most common causes of serious childhood injury, along with the costs to the NHS and the financial and emotional costs for children and their families.


National and local surveys can provide useful information which you can use to help make the case for investment in targeted prevention activities. Surveys can provide insights into topics such as:

  • parental views and attitudes towards childhood accidents and preventability
  • the prevalence of ‘hazards’ which are known to increase the likelihood of accidents in the home eg poor housing, overcrowding or smoking, and in the community, eg a lack of safe places to play.

CAPT’s Child Safety Week survey in 2012 explored parental attitudes towards child safety and found that four in ten parents wanted more advice on keeping their children safe from serious accidents. On a local level, NHS Salford’s rapid review of unintentional injury prevention included research into parental perceptions of risk – an important area to explore because parents aren’t always aware of the most serious risks. Find out more in our case study on NHS Salford.

Key sources of data

You can use our data and statistics sources tool to find data to use in your child accident prevention work. It highlights the main sources of data on A&E attendances, hospital admissions, childhood deaths, fire casualties and road casualties.

ChiMat’s JSNA Navigator – Children and Young People aims to take you directly to the data you need when conducting a JSNA for children and young people.

Working with accident prevention data

Our guide to working with data and statistics provides advice on how to go about analysing data on childhood accidents and how to work around problems you might encounter.

Data coding and collection

One of the biggest data challenges that commissioners come across is that local organisations collect, code and share data in different ways. Establishing a standardised approach to data collection, coding and sharing – for example through setting up a working group with representatives from different partners – will produce more robust information to work with in the future. Reducing the proportion of hospital admissions and A&E attendances coded under unspecified ‘other’ causes will greatly improve the quality of your data. The examples below show how two organisations have addressed this challenge.

Example 1: NHS Wakefield

Health improvement practitioner specialist Jane Stark took a two-step approach to reducing the number of accidents coded as ‘other unintentional injuries’ and the number of admissions coded as ‘accidental exposure to other and unspecified factors’. First she met with the team responsible for assigning codes to patient’s medical notes and explained how accurate coding supports the development of effective prevention programmes; then she talked to hospital doctors about the importance of providing as much detail as possible in medical notes, so that the coding team has enough information to work with. Find out more in our case study on NHS Wakefield.

Example 2: Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT

Accident prevention co-ordinator Beth Beynon led a two-month data collection pilot within A&E departments and minor injuries units, with the aim of obtaining more robust data on the causes of childhood accidents and who was most at risk in the local population. The team used a simple form to gather information on the circumstances of accidents - patients or their parents or carers filled in the basic facts while waiting in reception, then duty staff added specific details after the examination. Find out more in our case study on Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT.

Related links

Making the Link

Notes on this article

  1. Total number of finished consultant episodes for ICD-10 codes V01-X59 (covering accidents) among 0-14 year olds, from Hospital Episode Statistics, Admitted Patient Care – England, 2011-12: External causes, Health and Social Care Information Centre
  2. Deaths registered in England and Wales in 2011, Office for National Statistics
  3. Hippisley-Cox et al, Cross sectional survey of socioeconomic variations in severity and mechanism of childhood injuries in Trent 1992-7, BMJ, 2002
  4. Edwards et al, Deaths from injury in children and employment status in family: analysis of trends in class specific death rates, BMJ, 2006.
Updated June 2013