Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Injury hospitalization rate is higher in rural areas

Injuries requiring hospitalization occur at a significantly higher rates in rural areas, according to a study that researchers say is the first of its kind.

“As the population density decreases, the risk continues to increase,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Coben of the Injury Control Research Center at West Virginia University. “If you just look at violence – person against person – the rates are higher in urban areas. But for virtually every other cause of trauma, the risks are substantially greater in rural areas.”

Previous studies found that death rates from injuries are higher in rural areas. This study examined all injuries that prompted admissions to U.S. hospitals in 2004. Hospitalization rates for injuries were 35 percent higher in sparsely populated rural counties and 27 percent higher in more populated rural counties. (The release from Newswise, a research-reporting service, didn't make clear whether the comparisons were with metropolitan-area counties or the U.S. as a whole.) The study is published in the January issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Why is rural riskier? In addition to promptness of care, other factors include higher-risk occupations such as farming, longer commuting distances, and a host of other possible factors. "Previous studies have shown that people who live in rural areas are more likely to take part in risky behaviors such as recreational drug use, drunken driving or failing to use seatbelts," Newswise reports. "Plus a culture of self-reliance may cause people to undertake household fix-up chores that are inherently dangerous, such as roof repairs." (Read more)

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