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Global Relevance of Literature on Trauma

  • Symposium: ABJS/C.T. Brighton Workshop on Trauma in the Developing World
  • Published:
Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research


The trauma pandemic disproportionately kills and maims citizens of low-income countries although the immediate cause of the trauma is often an industrial export of a high-income country, such as a motor vehicle. Addressing the trauma pandemic in low-income countries requires access to relevant research information regarding prevention and treatment of injuries. Such information is also generally produced in high-income countries. We reviewed two years’ worth of articles from leading orthopaedic and general medical journals to determine whether the scientific literature appropriately reflects the global burden of musculoskeletal disease, particularly that due to trauma. General medical journals underrepresented musculoskeletal disease, but within musculoskeletal disease an appropriate majority of papers were regarding trauma, in particular the epidemiology and prevention of injury. Orthopaedic journals, while focusing on musculoskeletal conditions, substantially underrepresented the global burden of disease due to trauma and hardly consider injury epidemiology and prevention. If orthopaedic surgeons want to maximize their global impact, they should focus on writing about trauma questions relevant to their colleagues in low-income countries and ensuring these same colleagues have access to the literature.

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We thank the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons Carl Brighton Fellowship for stimulating discussion contributing to the completion of this work.

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Correspondence to Andrew W. Howard MD, MSc, FRCSC.

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Each author certifies that he or she has no commercial associations (eg, consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patent/licensing arrangements, etc) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article. Dr. Howard runs the Ptolemy project described in the accompanying article.

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Noordin, S., Wright, J.G. & Howard, A.W. Global Relevance of Literature on Trauma. Clin Orthop Relat Res 466, 2422–2427 (2008).

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