Background: Although social inequality in health has been an argument for community-based injury prevention programmes, intervention outcomes with regard to differences in social standing have not been analysed. The objective of this study was to investigate rates of injuries treated in health-care among members of households at different levels of labour market integration before and after the implementation of a WHO Safe Community programme.
Methods: A quasi-experimental design was used with pre- and post-implementation data collection covering the total populations <65 years of age during one year in the programme implementation municipality (population 41 000) and in a control municipality (population 26 000). Changes in injury rates were studied using prospective registration of all acute care episodes with regard to social standing in both areas during the study periods.
Results: Male members of households categorized as not vocationally active displayed the highest pre-intervention injury rates. Also after the intervention, males in households classified as not vocationally active displayed notably elevated injury rates in both the control and study areas. Households in the study area in which the significant member was employed showed a post-intervention decrease in injury rate among both men (P < 0.001) and women (P < 0.01). No statistically significant change was observed in households in which the significant member was self-employed or not vocationally active. In the control area, only an aggregate-level decrease (P < 0.05) among members of households in which the significant member was employed was observed.
Conclusions: The study displayed areas for improvement in the civic network-based WHO Safe Community model. Even though members of non-vocationally active households, in particular men, were at higher pre-intervention injury risk, they were not affected by the interventions. This fact has to be addressed when planning future community-based injury prevention programmes.