Date of Award

Spring 1992

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Weis, Darlene

Second Advisor

Wake, Madeline


Despite overwhelming clinical studies supporting decreased mortality, personal injury, and health care costs with helmet use; strong lobbies have been successful in repealing and repeatedly defeating helmet legislation across the country. The purpose of this study was to investigate differences in survival, injury, and health care costs between helmeted and non-helmeted motorcycle accident victims admitted to a large Wisconsin tertiary care center with a level I type trauma center. The conceptual framework focused on the interaction of the three concepts of the Epidemiological Injury Model; the host, the environment, and the agent of injury. The design involved the use of an instrument designed by the researcher to collect data consisting of demographics, helmet use, admission and discharge Glasgow coma I scores and subject length of stay from the medical record. Medical care costs were obtained from the hospital accounting department computerized records and included total patient charges broken down into the categories of emergency department, floor, intermediate, and intensive care charges, as well as other ancillary, supply and procedure charges. The sample consisted of 239 motorcycle injury patients 16 years of age or older admitted between January 1,1984 and December 31, 1990. Chi Square analysis supported a significant difference (p = .0184) regarding increased mortality of non-helmeted riders. T-tests supported a significant difference (p = .0001) regarding reduced initial and discharge Glasgow coma scores for non-helmeted over helmeted riders. The mean hospital bill for the helmeted cyclist was $16,251.44 versus a mean hospital bill for the non-helmeted motorcyclist of $35,466.99. At-test comparing helmeted and non-helmeted motorcycle accident victims total hospital bills was significant at the p =.0125 level. The results of this study have implications for legislators, health care professionals and administrators as they collaborate to determine future directions in helmet legislation at the state level.



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