OBJECTIVE: Using a representative survey of US children, the purpose was to evaluate separate effects of socioeconomic and racial/ethnic factors, including access to care, on medically attended non-fatal injury rates. METHODS: Multivariate linear regression models were used to determine associations between injuries and health care coverage (insurance or Medicaid), having a place to go for care, race/ethnicity, maternal education, number of adults and children in the household, poverty, and urbanicity. The 1988 Child Health Supplement to the National Health Interview Survey included questions on medically attended injuries, and their cause, location, and effects on the child. Injury categories included total, consequential, occurrence at home or school, falls, and being struck or cut. RESULTS: Lack of health care coverage was consistently associated with lower medically attended injury rates in non-Hispanic blacks or whites and Mexican-Americans, but affected total rates for each group differently due to unequal distribution of health care coverage. Injuries occurred about 40% more frequently to children and adolescents living in single adult households compared with two adult homes for all injury categories except for injuries occurring at school. CONCLUSIONS: Preventive interventions targeted to specific populations based on assumptions that poverty, lack of education, or minority status result in greater risks for injuries require a closer look. Efficient targeting should address underlying factors such as differences in exposures and environments associated with single adult homes or recreational activities. Data sources used to target high risk populations for interventions need to address bias due to access to care.
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