Public Release: 

Aboriginal Canadians at high risk for severe trauma

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Injury is the leading cause of death among people under age of 45 and the leading cause of potential years of life lost. A new study by Shahzeer Karmali and colleagues in this issue of CMAJ shows aboriginal Canadians are at much higher risk of sustaining severe trauma.

This population-based, observational study quantified the impact of injury, both fatal and nonfatal on the Aboriginal community within the Calgary Health Region, which comprises over 1 million urban and rural inhabitants.

The study found that Aboriginal Canadians were nearly four times as likely than the reference population in the Calgary Health Region to sustain severe trauma (257.2 v. 68.8 per 100 000; relative risk [3.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.0-4.6). Aboriginal Canadians were found to be at significantly increased risk of injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes (RR 4.8, 95% CI 3.5-6.5), assault (RR 11.1, 95% CI 6.2-18.6) and traumatic suicide (RR 3.1, 95% CI 1.4-6.1).

The authors also report that the main cause of trauma resulting in severe injuries and death among Aboriginal Canadians was motor vehicle crashes. Also, Aboriginal Canadians had a 10-fold greater risk of injury secondary to assault and a 3-fold greater risk of traumatic suicide.

In a related commentary, Dr. Nadine Caron outlines a process that must be undertaken first begin to understand such statistics and then to address them. From the outset, however, she warns that "each step in this vital process cannot be done for Canada's Aboriginal population; it can only be done with us."


p. 1007 Epidemiology of severe trauma among status Aboriginal Canadians: a population-based study - M. Hameed and colleagues

p. 1023 Getting to the root of trauma in Canada's Aborginal population - N.R. Caron

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