Population-Based Assessment of Urban Versus Rural Child Fatalities From Firearms in a Midwestern State

Published:November 09, 2022DOI:



      Several studies have evaluated differences in firearm injury patterns among children based on regionalization. However, many of these studies exclude patients who die before arriving at a trauma center. We therefore hypothesize that important population-based differences in pediatric firearm injuries may be uncovered with the inclusion of both prehospital firearm mortalities and patients treated at a tertiary children's hospital.


      Patients less than 15 y of age who sustained a firearms-related injury/death between the years 2012 and 2018 were identified in: (1) death certificates from the Office of Vital Statistics State of Indiana and (2) Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health Trauma Registry. Counties of injury were classified as either urban, midsized, or rural based on the National Center for Health Statistic's population data. Significant variables in univariate analysis were then assessed using multivariate logistic regression models.


      A total of 222 patients were identified. Median age of firearm injury survivors was 13 (interquartile range 7-14), while the median age of nonsurvivors was 14 (interquartile range 11-15), P = 0.040. The proportion of suicide was significantly higher in rural counties (P < 0.001). When controlling for shooter intent, patients from a rural or midsized county had statistically significant higher odds of dying before reaching a hospital than their urban counterpart (rural odds ratio [OR] 5.67 [95% confidence interval {CI} 2.23, 14.38]; midsized OR 6.53 [95% CI 2.43, 17.46]; P < 0.001).


      Important differences exist between pediatric firearm injuries based on where they occur. Public health initiatives aimed at reducing pediatric firearm injury and death should not exclude rural pediatrics patients.


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