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June 12, 1996

Nonfatal and Fatal Firearm Injuries in a Rural County

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Dr Sadowski), and the Clinical Epidemiology Unit, School of Medicine, Universidad de la Frontera, Temuco, Chile (Dr Muñoz).

JAMA. 1996;275(22):1762-1764. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530460066034

Objective.  —To measure the incidence of fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries in a rural setting.

Design.  —A prospective, population-based surveillance system using information from medical and legal records, newspapers, and members of the community.

Setting.  —A rural county in North Carolina.

Main Outcome Measures.  —Incidence rates and case-fatality ratios (fatal:nonfatal).

Results.  —Of the 114 firearm injuries detected by the surveillance system from January 1,1990, through December 31,1991, nearly two thirds were nonfatal. The overall age-adjusted annual incidence of firearm injuries was 66.4 per 100000 population, and the incidence of nonfatal firearm injuries was 41.2 per 100000 population. Subgroup annual incidence rates were greatest for African Americans. The overall case-fatality ratio was 1:1.8 (fatal:nonfatal).

Conclusions.  —Incidence rates and case-fatality ratios for firearm injury in this rural setting were greater than expected, based on national estimates, perhaps because of greater proportions of rifle injuries and self-inflicted injuries.(JAMA. 1996;275:1762-1764)