Road Traffic Injury in China: A Review of National Data Sources

Sai Ma, Qingfeng Li, Maigeng Zhou, Leilei Duan, David Bishai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Objective: Road traffic injury (RTI) has become one of the leading causes of deaths in China, yet numbers on road traffic deaths are often inconsistent. This study sought to systematically review 4 national-level data sources that can be used to estimate burdens of RTI, including mortality, injury, and crashes in China. Methods: We conducted structured literature reviews in PubMed, using combined key words of injury or fatality or injury surveillance and traffic and China in order to identify relevant studies (in both English and Chinese) and data sources. We also conducted interviews and hosted seminars with key researchers from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Chinese CDC) to identify potential useful data sources for injury surveillance. We then extracted key information from publicly available reports of each data source. Results: Four national-level data sources were reviewed and compared: Ministry of Health-Vital Registration (MOH-VR) System, Chinese CDC-Disease Surveillance Points (DSP), Chinese CDC-National Injury Surveillance System (NISS), and police reports. Together they provide a complementary yet somewhat contradictory epidemiological profile of RTIs in China. Estimates on road traffic fatalities obtained from MOH-VR and police reports are often used by researchers and policymakers, whereas DSP and NISS, both with great merits, have virtually not been used for RTI research. Despite the well-documented problems of underreported deaths with both MOH-VR and DSP, estimated road traffic deaths from both systems were 3 times those reported by the police. Conclusions: As the foundation of injury prevention, national-level data sources and surveillance systems were reviewed in the study. Existing data infrastructures present the Chinese government a great opportunity to strengthen and integrate existing surveillance systems to better track road traffic injury and fatality and identify the population at risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • China
  • Road traffic injury
  • injury surveillance
  • road traffic fatality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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