20 March 2014

Fridays from the Archives: Bicycle-related Injury Surveillance

Thursday, March 20, 2014: Bicycle-related Injury Surveillance

Admittedly, it's not quite Friday yet, but it's never too early for Fridays from the Archives.

Today is the official start of spring. For some of you lucky folks that means flowers are blooming and it's warm enough for short sleeves. For those of us in New England, spring is more like the final gasp of winter. But we know that, soon enough, we will be able to shed our heavy coats and venture outdoors.

In Boston spring comes with an ever-growing flood of bicyclists. In just two years (between 2007 and 2009) there was a 122% increase in bicycle commuter ridership. As a result, beginning in 2007, Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) started to quantify the bike injury burden and characterize bicycle-related injury (BRI) visits in Boston, based on emergency department (ED) visit data.

Marcus Rennick, MPH and Aileen Shen, MPH, described the process involved in developing and utilizing this novel BRI syndrome definition in an April 2012 ISDS webinar. A combination of chief complaints and ICD-9 CM codes were utilized to characterize ED visits as BRI. The BRI syndrome differs greatly from more commonly used syndromes (GI, ILI, etc.) and represents the malleability and flexibility of syndromic surveillance methodology in public health practice.

As a result of this project BPHC was able to identify both neighborhoods and age groups at greatest risk. This information is used to target bike lane development and educational activities, such as promoting helmet use when riding a bike.

For more information on Rapid Surveillance and Data Integration: A Syndromic Description of Bicycle-Related Injury in Boston please visit the ISDS website.

This post is part of the series Fridays from the Archives. You can access all posts in the series here.

Written by Becky Zwickl, MPH, ISDS Public Health Analyst (bzwickl@syndromic.org). 

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