Urban vs rural pediatric trauma in Alberta: where can we focus on prevention?

J Pediatr Surg. 2010 May;45(5):908-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2010.02.022.


Purpose: Understanding differences between rural and urban pediatric trauma is important in establishing preventative strategies specific to each setting.

Methods: Data were extracted from a Provincial Pediatric Trauma Registry on pediatric patients (0-17 years) with Injury Severity Scores (ISS) 12 or more, treated from 1996 to 2006 at 5 major trauma centers in the province. Urban and rural patients were compared with respect to demographic data, as well as injury type and severity. Statistical analysis was made using SPSS software (SPSS Inc, Chicago, Ill) by chi(2), Fisher's Exact test, or t test with P < .05 considered significant.

Results: Of n = 2660, 63.3% rural patients predominate; mean ISS was 22.5. However, rural patients had more severe injuries (ISS, 23.2 vs 21.8; P < .0001). Blunt trauma was the most common mechanism overall (urban, 89.6%; rural, 93.2%), with most being motor vehicle accidents (MVAs). Significantly, more penetrating trauma occurred in the urban setting (5.4% vs 2.6%; P < .0001). Intent injuries were more common in the urban setting (15.2% vs 5.5%). Of the patients, 89.2% survived the trauma. However, urban patients had a higher rate of death than rural ones (13.0% vs 10.5%; P < .05).

Conclusion: Despite the finding that rural patients sustained more severe injuries, overall survival was actually better when compared with urban patients. Most injuries were blunt trauma, suggesting road safety should be the main target in prevention strategies. Intent injuries were much higher in the urban group, thus, a need to target violence in urban prevention strategies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Distribution
  • Survival Rate
  • Urban Population
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*