Risk of Injury Death Lower in Urban Cities of U.S., Study Finds
By Sam Goodwin
Researchers from Penn University have found that urban cities in the Unites States have a lower risk of injury deaths, making them safer than rural areas of the country.
According to a Centers of Disease Control and Prevention report, over 31.6 million people in the United States are treated in the emergency department for serious unintentional injuries each year. Of these, approximately 180,000 die from such injuries each year. In 2010, injury was the leading cause of death among Americans aged 1 to 44 years accounting for 50.6% of all deaths among this age group. The country spends more than $406 billion on medical care and lost productivity each year.
It has been a popular belief that major cities in the U.S. are far less safer than rural areas. In a related study, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that the major cities of U.S. are safer and have a lower risk of deaths due to injuries. The three most common types were vehicle collisions, firearms, and poisoning. When all three were regarded as one, researchers noted a 20 percent lower injury death risk among residents of urban cities in the country compared to residents of suburban and rural counties.
"These findings may lead people who are considering leaving cities for non-urban areas due to safety concerns to re-examine their motivations for moving," lead study author, Sage R. Myers, MD, MSCE, assistant professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine and attending physician, Department of Emergency Medicine at CHOP, said in a press release. "And we hope the findings could also lead us to re-evaluate our rural health care system and more appropriately equip it to both prevent and treat the health threats that actually exist."
Researchers examined county-level data on all injury deaths across the U.S. from 1999-2006. The examination confirmed prior beliefs that homicide rates are lower in rural areas than urban areas. In spite of this, researchers deemed urban cities safer because they have a lower risk of deaths caused due to injuries and the number of national injury deaths is 15 percent more than homicides.
Researchers noted that the risk of unintentional-injury death is 40 percent higher in the nation's most rural counties compared to the most urban. The most common form of unintentional-injury death was found to be motor vehicle crashes. The rate of motor vehicle crash deaths was 1.4 times higher in urban cities than other forms of unintentional-injury deaths and 2 times higher in rural areas than urban cities.