Researchers conducting a study in the 2018 issue of Pediatrics, "Rural versus Urban Hospitalizations for Firearm Injuries in Children and Adolescents", analyzed the Kids' Inpatient Database to identify hospitalizations for injuries due to firearms in patients under age 20.
A total of 21,843 hospitalizations from 2006, 2009, and 2012 were compared based on demographics, rural versus urban location, and the cause of the injury (assault, suicide attempt, accidental, or undetermined). Researchers found that most of the pediatric firearm injuries resulting in hospitalization occurred among older teens (ages 15 to 19) and that those living in urban areas had the highest rate of hospitalization. However, among younger children (ages 5 to 14) the rate of hospitalization was higher in rural areas.
Accidental firearm injuries were the most common cause of hospitalization across all age groups in urban or rural locations, except for 15- to 19-year-olds living in urban areas (for which firearm assaults were highest). Researchers also found that rates of hospitalization for firearm injuries due to suicide attempts were higher in rural areas compared to urban areas among older teens.
The researchers said that knowing how firearm injuries vary based on urban vs. rural communities plays an important role in designing and tailoring public health efforts to reduce firearm-related injuries in each community.