Helmet Regulation in Vietnam: Impact on Health, Equity and Medical Impoverishment

Authors: Zach Olson, John A. Staples, Charles Mock, Nam Phuong Nguyen, Abdulgafoor Bachani, Rachel Nugent, Stéphane Verguet


Background Vietnam's 2007 comprehensive motorcycle helmet policy increased helmet use from about 30% of riders to about 93%. We aimed to simulate the effect that this legislation might have on: (a) road traffic deaths and non-fatal injuries, (b) individuals’ direct acute care injury treatment costs, (c) individuals’ income losses from missed work and (d) individuals’ protection against medical impoverishment.

Methods and findings We used published secondary data from the literature to perform a retrospective extended cost-effectiveness analysis simulation study of the policy. Our model indicates that in the year following its introduction a helmet policy employing standard helmets likely prevented approximately 2200 deaths and 29 000 head injuries, saved individuals US$18 million in acute care costs and averted US$31 million in income losses. From a societal perspective, such a comprehensive helmet policy would have saved $11 000 per averted death or $830 per averted non-fatal injury. In terms of financial risk protection, traffic injury is so expensive to treat that any injury averted would necessarily entail a case of catastrophic health expenditure averted.

Conclusions The high costs associated with traffic injury suggest that helmet legislation can decrease the burden of out-of-pocket payments and reduced injuries decrease the need for access to and coverage for treatment, allowing the government and individuals to spend resources elsewhere. These findings suggest that comprehensive motorcycle helmet policies should be adopted by low-income and middle-income countries where motorcycles are pervasive yet helmet use is less common.  Read more



Olson, Z. et al. 2015. Helmet regulation in Vietnam: impact on health, equity and medical impoverishment. Injury Prevention. published online 4 January 2016. DOI: 10.1136/injuryprev-2015-041650