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Open Access Correspondence

The utility of administrative data for neurotrauma surveillance and prevention in Ontario, Canada

Daria Parsons1, Angela Colantonio2* and Michelle Mohan3

Author Affiliations

1 TorontoRehabilitation Institute, UHN, Toronto, ON, Canada

2 Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-UHN, University of Toronto, 160-500 University Ave, Toronto, ON M5G 1V7, Canada

3 Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:584  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-584

Published: 25 October 2012



Surveillance of neurotrauma events is necessary to guide the development and evaluation of effective injury prevention initiatives. The aim of this paper is to review potential sources of existing population-based data to inform neurotrauma prevention in Canada, using sources available in Ontario as an example. Data sources, including administrative data holdings from Ontario’s publicly funded health care system and ongoing national surveys, were reviewed to determine the degree of relevance for neurotrauma surveillance, using standards outlined by the World Health Organization as a framework.


Five key data sources were identified for neurotrauma surveillance. Five other sources were considered useful; cause of injury was not identifiable in 5 additional sources; and 4 sources were not relevant for surveillance purposes.


We provide information about which existing data sources are most relevant for neurotrauma surveillance and research, as well as examine the strengths and limitations of these sources. Administrative data can be used to facilitate surveillance of neurotrauma and are considered both useful and cost effective for the development and evaluation of injury prevention programs.

Prevention; Surveillance; Spinal cord injuries; Brain injuries; Data sources