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Numbers are people too - understanding the impact of injury

I am a quantitative researcher. I don’t have a mug saying “I love spreadsheets”, but I do tend to be sat at a desk digging through Excel rather than speaking to people day in day out like my qualitative colleagues. 

We’ve recently worked with National Accident Helpline to explore the extent of the impact that injury caused by an accident can have on people’s lives as part of their “Make It Right” campaign. The Nursery has worked with National Accident Helpline for many years so it’s not a new topic for me, but it is the first time we have really delved into the long term impact on people’s physical and mental health, relationships and work. It’s also the first time that I’ve really thought about what someone life would be like after recovering from a serious accident.

As part of this study, we found that:

  • Daily routines are disrupted: 60% of people who recovered from their physical injury said that it had taken more time than they expected
  • Relationships are under strain: 47% of people who were in a relationship at the time of their accident said they had experienced problems with their spouse or partner
  • Working lives are negatively affected: 60% of people said they have been unable to perform certain tasks as usual at work as a result of their accident
  • Seven out of 10 people (72%) who had an accident said that they suffered from a mental health issue as a result of it. Stress was the most common symptom at 35%, closely followed by anxiety at 34%

But beyond the numbers, people told us in their own words how their accidents had impacted their lives:

“It changed both our lives. [It] limited where we went as a couple as I no longer wanted to go anywhere where there were traffic or crossings.”

“I became very nervous to drive anywhere, especially while still pregnant and with the children in the car.”

We also interviewed healthcare professionals to get their perspective:

“Someone could be working all their life, they have an accident and they’ll be off work for a month. And that will disrupt their way of life, they can become clinically depressed – low mood, no motivation, lack of doing things, and whatever we say or do, it can never help.” 

Reading through these comments and interviews really brought the issues to life for me, and reinforced the importance of hearing from people in their own words particularly when we’re researching such complicated and emotive issues.

For further information please take a look at the "Make it Right" campaign here:

www.national-accident-helpline.co.uk/about-us/make-it-right    

"We designed a two-stage research programme to understand the impact of no-fault accidents from both the injured and healthcare professionals’ points of view: We carried out a 15-minute online interview with people recruited from Dynata’s (previous Research Now/SSI) panel. We conducted 1,021 interviews of those who had a significant injury in the last five years which resulted from an accident which was, at least partly, someone else’s fault. The fieldwork took place from the 15th to 22nd February 2019.

We conducted five 75-90 minute depth interviews with healthcare professionals, experienced in caring for patients recovering from no-fault accidents. Interviews took place between 19th February and 4th March 2019."

Laura Anderson