Rural Life Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , July 24, 2013

Myers and her colleagues analyzed 1,295,919 injury deaths that occurred between 1999 and 2006 and found that the risk was 22% higher in the most rural counties than in the most urban. The most common causes of injury death were motor vehicle crashes, leading to 27.61 deaths per 100,000 people in most rural areas and 10.58 per 100,000 in most urban areas.  

Firearm-related deaths statistics were not much different in rural and urban areas for the entire population. However, when age subgroups were examined, firearm-related deaths were significantly higher in rural areas for children and people 45 years and older. For people aged 20–44, the firearm-related death risk was significantly lower in rural areas.

Myers says the risk of homicide is higher in big cities, but the risk of unintentional death is 40% higher in most rural areas when compared with their urban counterparts. "And overall, the rate of unintentional injury dwarfs the risk of homicide, with the rate of unintentional injury more than 15 times that of homicide among the entire population," Myers says. "The unintentional injuries are what are driving the whole thing. The unintentional injuries are so much higher than homicides and suicides in the rural areas than in urban."

While the study uncovered surprising findings, Myers says she can only speculate as to the reasons why. We've all heard about that "golden hour" of access to medical care after a traumatic injury that can mean the difference between life and death. Was that a factor?

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2 comments on "Rural Life Can Be Hazardous to Your Health"

Dave Mittman, PA, DFAAPA (7/25/2013 at 11:52 AM)
The article's conclusions are too simplistic. Are the accidents more severe? Cars can drive much faster. People who are impaired drive without a red light every block so when they hit things they hit them faster. Rural people farm and use equipment that cause injuries, they tend not to sit in cubicles. Even rural sports are more extreme. Take into account the TIME it takes EMTS to reach people and stabilize them and transport them back. All really not a problem in the city. Even with the best ER people the patients come in sicker at times because of that. There are great clinicians in rural areas. There are some not so good. Same in cities. That being said if you have major trauma and can get to a major trauma center, you have a better change of living. Hard to separate the differing reasons for not doing as well though.

Thomas (7/25/2013 at 9:19 AM)
There are any number of reasons for this difference: the rural population is older; rural jobs tend to be more hazardous; rural homes and worksites are isolated and sometimes far from medical services; rural car crashes tend to occur at higher speeds and are often side-impacting "T" collisions or head-on.




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