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J Ky Med Assoc. 2009 May;107(5):170-5.

An analysis of risk-taking behavior among adolescent blunt trauma patients.

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Department of Surgery, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Kentucky 40202, USA.



The impact of risk-taking behavior among adolescent blunt trauma patients is not fully appreciated. This study examined the relationship between adolescent risk-taking behaviors, the resultant injury severity, and outcome for blunt trauma.


Between January 2000 and December 2005, data were collected on adolescent blunt trauma patients (12-18 years) admitted to either a Level I adult trauma center or large urban pediatric hospital. Five groups of risk-taking behavior were examined: ATV riders, drug and alcohol users, unhelmeted motorcyclists, unhelmeted extreme sports participants and unrestrained motor vehicle occupants. Demographic data, mechanism of injury, injury severity, hospital course and outcomes were evaluated for each group.


A total of 2030 adolescents were admitted following blunt trauma; 723 adolescents (36%) were engaged in risk-taking behavior at the time of their injury. Most patients were male (68%). Unrestrained MVA occupants were the most frequently encountered risk takers (37%); among this subset, most were unrestrained passengers (74%). Head injuries were frequent (22%) among risk takers. When compared to non-risk-takers, there were no significant age, race, gender, or ISS differences. However, a significantly higher number of positive head CT scans were found among risk-taking adolescents (22%, p < 0.05). Mortality was low (3%).


Risk-taking behavior is prevalent among adolescent blunt trauma patients. Improved injury prevention strategies are needed to discourage these behaviors during adolescence.

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