Gunshot wound incidence as a persistent, tragic symptom of area deprivation
Background: More than 30,000 Americans die every year of firearm-related injuries. Gun violence is frequently addressed by law enforcement and policing, as opposed to public health interventions that might address poverty or deprivation. Our goal was to evaluate the past 20 years of gunshot wound injury demographics seen at our level I academic trauma center and create a risk map model correlating gunshot wound incidence with area deprivation. Methods: Patients admitted for gunshot wound-related injuries between 1996 and 2017 were identified using our trauma registry. Demographic and injury data were extracted and analyzed. Multivariable logistic regression models were created to identify predictors of mortality. Geographic information system mapping of incident location and home address was completed to identify zip code hot spots of high gunshot wound incidence. Area Deprivation Indices, which reflect local income or poverty, housing, education, and employment were used as a marker of relative economic disadvantage. Spearman rank correlation was used to determine the relationship between Area Deprivation Indices score and gunshot wound rate. Results: A total of 2,413 patients with gunshot wounds were evaluated. The cohort had a mean age of 28.8 ± 11.5 and was 89.6% male. Mean Injury Severity Score was 11 ± 12.5. gunshot wounds were most frequently a result of assault (91.1%), followed by unintentional injury (3.4%). Geographic information systems mapping revealed significant clustering of gunshot wounds. The areas with highest per capita incidence of gunshot wounds was strongly correlated with Area Deprivation Indices (0.594, P < .001). Conclusion: Geographic regions of known lower socioeconomic resources have higher incidence of gunshot wounds in our community. Both Area Deprivation Indices and gunshot wound incidents in these distressed communities remained unchanged throughout the past 20 years, despite law enforcement crime suppression efforts. Gunshot wounds appear to be a symptom of area deprivation, similar to failing schools and poor health outcomes. Efforts to decrease poverty and community capacity-building may help alleviate this area deprivation.
Surgery (United States)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Abaza, R., Lukens-Bull, K., Bayouth, L., Smotherman, C., Tepas, J., Crandall, M. (2020) Gunshot wound incidence as a persistent, tragic symptom of area deprivation. Surgery (United States), 168(4), 671-675.