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J Rural Health. 2005 Winter;21(1):65-9.

Analysis of prior health system contacts as a harbinger of subsequent fatal injury in American Indians.

Author information

1
Critical Illness and Trauma Foundation, Inc, Bozeman, MT 59715, USA. tsanddal@citmt.org

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Many American Indian nations, tribes, and bands are at an elevated risk for premature death from unintentional injury. Previous research has documented a relationship between alcohol-related injury and subsequent injury death among predominately urban samples. The presence or nature of such a relationship has not been documented among American Indians living in the northern plains.

PURPOSE:

The purpose of this study was to identify and characterize any association between prior injury and/or alcohol use contacts with the Indian Health Service (IHS) and subsequent alcohol-related injury death that may suggest opportunities for mitigation.

METHODS:

Death certificates of American Indians who died from injury (ICD-9-E 800-999) in a rural IHS area over 6 consecutive years were linked to IHS acute-care facility records and toxicology reports. Deaths and prior IHS contacts were stratified by alcohol use as a contributing factor. Of the 526 injury deaths involving American Indians in the IHS area studied, 411 (78%) were successfully linked to IHS records. One hundred fifty-two of these cases met the inclusion criteria, with an additional 98 cases identified as a comparison group.

FINDINGS:

No differences in alcohol use at time of death between groups with and without prior health care contact (for injury or alcohol) could be determined (81% vs 73%). A significant relationship was found between previous visits for acute or chronic alcohol use and subsequent alcohol-related fatalities (P =.01).

CONCLUSIONS:

Based on these findings, injury-prevention activities in the population studied should be initiated at the time of any health-system contact in which alcohol use is identified. Intervention strategies should be developed that convey the immediate risk of death from injury in these patients.

PMID:
15667011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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