The Socioeconomic Characteristics of Childhood Injuries in Regional Victoria, Australia: What the Missing Data Tells Us
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Injury is the leading cause of death among those between 1–16 years of age in Australia. Studies have found that injury rates increase with socioeconomic disadvantage. Rural Urgent Care Centres (UCC) represent a key point of entry into the Victorian healthcare system for people living in smaller rural communities, often categorised as lower socio-economic groups. Emergency presentation data from UCCs is not routinely collated in government datasets. This study seeks to compare socioeconomic
... acteristics of children aged 0–14 attending a UCC to those who attend a 24-h Emergency Departments with an injury-related emergency presentation. This will inform gaps in our current understanding of the links between socioeconomic status and childhood injury in regional Victoria. Methods: A network of rural hospitals in South West Victoria, Australia provide ongoing detailed de-identified emergency presentation data as part of the Rural Acute Hospital Data Register (RAHDaR). Data from nine of these facilities was extracted and analysed for children (aged 0–14 years) with any principal injury-related diagnosis presenting between 1 February 2017 and 31 January 2020. Results: There were 10,137 injury-related emergency presentations of children aged between 0–14 years to a participating hospital. The relationship between socioeconomic status and injury was confirmed, with overall higher rates of child injury presentations from those residing in areas of Disadvantage. A large proportion (74.3%) of the children attending rural UCCs were also Disadvantaged. Contrary to previous research, the rate of injury amongst children from urban areas was significantly higher than their more rural counterparts. Conclusions: Findings support the notion that injury in Victoria differs according to socioeconomic status and suggest that targeted interventions for the reduction of injury should consider socioeconomic as well as geographical differences in the design of their programs.