Bicycle Helmet Effectiveness in Preventing Injury and Death

Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH; Martha Wojtowycz, PhD; Cynthia B. Morrow, MD, MPH; Sally M. Sutphen, MSc, MPH
Date published
Dec, 2003
Last updated
31 Jan 2020


This case—bicycle helmet effectiveness—is one of a series of teaching cases in the Case-Based Series in Population-Oriented Prevention (C-POP). It has been developed for use in medical school and residency prevention curricula. The complete set of cases is presented in this supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. This case examines the cost-effectiveness of three interventions to increase utilization of bicycle helmets to avert head injuries in individuals aged 18 years and under in Onondaga Count NY. Students are initially presented with data on head injuries, hospitalization, and death related to bicycle use. They then appraise a published study on the effectiveness of bicycle helmets in averting head injury. Finally, students work in groups to determine the cost-effectiveness of each intervention by calculating implementation costs and the specific number of head injuries averted associated with intervention. The three interventions are legislative, school, and community-based campaigns to increase helmet use. Students are provided with budget estimates and assumptions needed to complete the exercise. Cost-effectiveness analysis, cost-benefit analysis, and related concepts are discussed, including provider versus societal perspectives and importance of sensitivity analysis.

(Am J Prev Med 2003;24(4S):143–149) © 2003 American Journal of Preventive Medicine