Background: Area-based studies of childhood injuries strongly suggest that neighborhood socio-demographic and economic circumstances impact on various - though not all - types of injuries. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the stability over time of the association between area characteristics and childhood injuries of various causes.
Methods: Register-based and ecological, the study encompassed Stockholm County's 138 parishes, and considered two time periods (1993-95; 2003-05). Two indices were measured: economic deprivation and social fragmentation, and parishes were allocated to their respective quintile on each index. Data on both unintentional and intentional injuries for children (boys and girls) aged 10-14 and 15-19 respectively were gathered from the County Council's hospital inpatient register. For each period and index, gender, age and cause-specific comparisons were made to assess the rate ratios (with 95% confidence intervals) of being injured using parishes belonging to the best index level as a comparison group. A series of simple and partial Pearson correlations were also calculated to assess the independent contribution of each index.
Results: Regardless of time period, there were rather few significant rate ratios and, when they occurred, there were both under and excess risks. For instance, in each period, boys from both age groups living in parishes with the highest levels of economic deprivation had lower rate of injury as a motor vehicle rider. Most strikingly, intentional injuries were more frequent during the second time period and in considerable excess among girls aged 15-19 from more economically deprived areas. Also, during that last period, none of the injury causes correlated significantly with the index of social fragmentation after adjustment for economic deprivation (partial correlation).
Conclusion: Over a ten-year period, differential economic deprivation among parishes has widened more than social fragmentation in Stockholm County. The correlation between those indices is high in both periods of time whilst the association between the levels of each index and injury rates varies depending on group of injuries or time period considered. It is of concern that intentional injuries have increased numerically and are significantly and positively correlated with economic deprivation (net of social fragmentation), in particular among girls.