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Unintentional injuries higher in areas with higher First Nations populations

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TORONTO - A new study shows unintentional injury rates are higher in remote and low-income neighbourhoods with a high percentage of First Nations residents.

The study, from Statistics Canada, shows the differences were particularly acute for women aged 20 to 44.

Those living in low-income neighbourhoods with high First Nations populations were three and a half times more likely to be hospitalized with an unintentional injury than women in low-income neighbourhoods with fewer First Nations residents.

Statistics Canada analyst Evelyne Bougie says this group seems to be particularly vulnerable to unintentional injuries, but the study wasn't designed to shed light on why.

Unintentional injuries hospitalizations are things like falls, motor vehicle accidents and other types of injury-inducing events that are typically deemed to be preventable.

They do not include injuries that are the result of assaults; those are classified as intentional injuries.

"We didn't look at the whys, and we didn't look at the particular kinds of injuries for this particular age and sex group," Bougie says of the young women.

The study, published Wednesday, shows the rates of people hospitalized for unintentional injuries were between two to three times higher in low-income areas with high First Nations populations when compared to low-income neighbourhoods with fewer First Nations people.

And the unintentional injury rates were about two times higher in remote areas with high First Nations populations when compared to remote areas with lower numbers of First Nations residents.

It is known that in general, people who live in remote and low-income areas are hospitalized more frequently for unintentional injuries than people who live in more central and more affluent neighbourhoods.

But some other factor or factors must be contributing to the higher injury rates in remote and low-income neighbourhoods with high First Nations populations, says Bougie, who is the study's first author.

"Other social determinants of health could help us understand what are the other risk factors," she says. "So it could be working conditions, social and physical environments, health services — things like this."

"These could be areas for future research. We didn't look at them in this study."

The researchers used hospital discharge data from 2004-04 to 2009-10 and data from the 2006 census.

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