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354 The Swiss registry of fatalities in sports: how to overcome data gaps
  1. Steffen Niemann,
  2. Philip Derrer,
  3. Flavia Buergi,
  4. Mirjam Baechli,
  5. Othmar Bruegger
  1. Swiss Council for Accident Prevention BFU, Bern, Switzerland


Background Fatality tops the injury pyramid. Knowledge of the extent and nature of fatal sports injuries is a key element in prevention. However, those data were not available for a long time in Switzerland. Like other countries, Switzerland has a mortality database, but with 3 major shortcomings: it is almost impossible to identify sports fatalities with the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th version (ICD-10) external causes; data are entered with a time lag of three years; and fatal injuries in tourists are not recorded.

Objective To estimate the extent of sports fatalities in Switzerland.

Design We retrieved data from a registry of sports fatalities established in 2000, by the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention BFU. The main source of data was a standardized query, conducted by a Swiss media agency. The registry was supplemented and validated with data from partner organizations, like the Swiss Alpine Club or the Swiss Life Saving Organization. Sports, age, sex, date, time, location of fatal injury, and numerous other characteristics were encoded.

Setting Recreational sports.

Results Since 2000, 3397 fatalities were registered (179 annually, SD: 26; 83% males). The mean age was 45 y (SD: 19). Among the fatally injured, 32% were tourists from abroad. Most deaths occurred while mountain hiking, mountaineering, and climbing, followed by swimming in open water and backcountry skiing.

Conclusions The sports fatality registry established by the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention is an important, valid supplement to existing injury data. It allows detailed, up-to-date analyses of fatal sports injuries, which supports the priorities of the BFU’s nationwide prevention strategy.

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