The Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) is an injury and poisoning surveillance system that collects and analyzes data on injuries to people who are seen at the emergency rooms of 11 pediatric hospitals and 6 general hospitals in Canada. The CHIRPP is a unique, richly detailed database of "pre-event" injury information obtained by asking:
Data collection began in April 1990 at the pediatric hospitals and between 1991 and 1995 in most of the general hospitals. Since then, more than 2.8 million records have been collected nationally; more than 80% of these records concern children and youth 19 years of age and younger. Records from the general hospitals also provide information on injuries sustained by adults. The CHIRPP database provides information for summary reports on injury occurrence and may also be used for more detailed research. Analysts can zero in on a specific set of records by "searching" the database for selected variables, key text words, or a combination of these. These efforts help contribute to the CHIRPP's ultimate goal: to reduce the number and severity of injuries in Canada.
The CHIRPP is a program of the Injury Section of the Surveillance & Epidemiology Division, Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention, Public Health Agency of Canada.
When an injured person presents to the emergency room of a participating hospital, he/she (or the caregiver accompanying a child) is asked to complete a one-page questionnaire ("CHIRPP form"). Questions on the front side of the form concern the circumstances surrounding the injury: what the person was doing at the time, what actually caused the injury, the factors that contributed to the injury, the time and place the injury occurred, and the age and sex of the patient. Staff in the emergency department fill out the other side of the CHIRPP form, providing details on the nature of the injury, injured body part and treatment received.
At each hospital there are two people who administer the program, the CHIRPP director (often a physician in the emergency department) who oversees the project, and the CHIRPP coordinator, who makes sure CHIRPP forms are being handed out and completed. CHIRPP forms completed at participating hospitals are entered into an electronic database. Trained personnel enter and code information on more than 40 variables and write a few lines of text describing "what happened" based on the account provided by the patient or caregiver.
The patterns of injury occurrence observed in the CHIRPP are used to report on hazards and high-risk situations. This information is provided to interested parties, such as injury prevention workers, who are striving to reduce injuries and make Canada safer. They use the data to set priorities, and to develop and evaluate injury prevention strategies. CHIRPP data are used to increase awareness and provide information for parents and caregivers, to better understand risks and hazards, to help tailor prevention programs, to focus efforts on hazardous situations or people who are at high risk of injury, and to help governments develop policy and legislation that improves safety.
Over the years, CHIRPP data have been used to study subjects such as injuries sustained during various sports and leisure activities, burns and scalds, poisonings, and injuries occurring at particular locations such as daycare centres and the home. CHIRPP analysts also provide brief reports in response to specific requests from members of the injury prevention community, governments, hospitals, health units, sports associations, teachers, daycare workers, the media and individuals. The CHIRPP centre at each participating hospital maintains a copy of its own local database, and these data are often used for research and information dissemination within the hospital and community. For more examples of CHIRPP-related injury prevention achievements, see the CHIRPP and other injury prevention highlights - 25 Year Timeline.
Injuries are the most significant threat to the health of Canadian children and a leading cause of death and disability for people of all ages. Canadians are increasingly aware of the magnitude of this problem and this has led to greater interest in injury prevention. Concerned groups and individuals have been working together to formulate new and creative ways of reducing injuries. Those involved in promoting safe environments and behaviours have formed partnerships and networks and regularly share data and strategies. The CHIRPP is part of this growing partnership - an invaluable resource for those who need to know how, why, and to whom injuries are happening. By providing such information, CHIRPP is fulfilling its aim: to contribute to the reduction in the number and severity of injuries in Canada.
CHIRPP reports are based on information from the CHIRPP database. It is important to note that the injuries described do not represent all injuries in Canada, but only those seen at the emergency departments of the 17 hospitals in the CHIRPP network. Since the bulk of CHIRPP data come from hospitals in cities, and most are pediatric hospitals, injuries suffered by the following people are underrepresented in the CHIRPP database: older teenagers and adults, who are seen at general hospitals; First Nation and Inuit people and other people who live in rural and remote areas. Fatal injuries are also underrepresented in the CHIRPP database because the emergency department data do not capture information about people who died before they could be taken to hospital or those who died after being admitted to hospital.
CHIRPP reports and statistics from them may be copied and circulated freely provided that the source is acknowledged. The following citation is recommended:
Injury statistics were obtained from the database of the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP), Public Health Agency of Canada.
For additional information on the CHIRPP program, please contact the Injury Section, Surveillance & Epidemiology Division, Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention.