Socioeconomic inequalities in injury: critical issues in design and analysis

Annu Rev Public Health. 2002:23:349-75. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.23.100901.140548. Epub 2001 Oct 25.


Injuries continue to place a tremendous burden on the public's health and rates vary widely among different groups in the population. Increasing attention has recently been given to the effects of socioeconomic status (SES) as a determinant of health among both individuals and communities. However, relatively few studies have focused on the influence of SES and injuries. Furthermore, those that have, and the other injury studies that have included measures of SES in their analysis, have varying degrees of conceptual and methodological rigor in their use of this measure. Recent advances in data linkage and analytic techniques have, however, provided new and improved methods to assess the relationship between SES and injuries. This review summarizes the relevant literature on SES and injuries, with particular attention to study design, and the measurement and interpretation of SES. We found that increasing SES has a strong inverse association with the risk of both homicide and fatal unintentional injuries, although the results for suicide were mixed. However, the relationship between SES and nonfatal injuries was less consistent than for fatal injuries. We offer potential explanatory mechanisms for the relationship between SES and injuries and make recommendations for future research in this area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Developed Countries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Public Health
  • Social Justice*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / physiopathology