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Int J Health Geogr. 2009 Nov 27;8:66. doi: 10.1186/1476-072X-8-66.

Spatial clusters of violent deaths in a newly urbanized region of Brazil: highlighting the social disparities.

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School of Nursing, Federal University of Goiás, Faculdade de Enfermagem, Rua 227 s/n Setor Leste Universitário, Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil.



Deaths due to homicides and traffic accidents among youth are a public health issue worldwide. Studies of the complex network of cause and effect on this topic point to both poverty and health inequalities. Different investigational approaches to intentional and unintentional deaths combined with socioeconomic variables can help create a better understanding of the association between violence and socioeconomic conditions. This study analyzed the spatial distribution and potential clusters of risk for intentional and unintentional deaths among youths aged 15-24 years in Goiânia, a newly urbanized city in central Brazil.


Death data and residential addresses were extracted from the national Mortality Information System and validated by household visits. To detect all potential cases, we prospectively investigated every death classified as a transport accident, assault, legal intervention, intentional self-harm, unknown underlying cause, and undetermined intent according to the ICD-10.The Geographical Information System was used to plot residential addresses, and cases were interactively geocoded to the residential address level using a digital map of the municipality. Spatial scan statistic was applied (Poisson model) to identify clusters of census tracts with high mortality due to intentional injuries and traffic accidents. The socioeconomic variables obtained using census data were compared between the most likely cluster and other areas of the municipality.


The most violent deaths among young people were due to intentional injuries. Between August 2005 and August 2006, 145 addresses for cases of intentional injuries and traffic accidents were located and geocoded. No significant clusters for deaths due to traffic accidents were found within the municipality. One significant cluster (RR = 4.65; p = 0.029) composed of 14 cases of intentional deaths, mostly homicides, was detected in an emergent, populated, and very poor area on the outskirts of the town. This cluster had a significantly higher proportion of people with the lowest educational status, lowest income, and poor housing conditions in comparison to the remainder of the municipality.


Our findings highlight the link between social inequalities and intentional deaths, clearly showing the need for urgent social interventions to reduce violence and premature mortality.

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