Background Characteristics of social environments are potential risk factors for adolescent injury. Impacts of social capital on the occurrence of such injuries have rarely been explored.
Methods General health questionnaires were completed by 8910 youth aged 14 years and older as part of the 2010 Canadian Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children study. These were supplemented with community-level data from the 2006 Canada Census of Population. Multilevel logistic regression models with random intercepts were fit to examine associations of interest. The reliability and validity of variables used in this analysis had been established in past studies, or in new analyses that employed factor analysis.
Results Between school differences explained 2% of the variance in the occurrence of injuries. After adjustment for all confounders, community social capital did not have any impact on the occurrence of injuries in boys: OR: 1.01, 95% CI 0.80 to 1.29. However, living in areas with low social capital was associated with lower occurrence of injuries in girls (OR 0.78, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.96). Other factors that were significantly related to injuries in both genders were younger age, engagement in more risky behaviours, and negative behavioural influences from peers.
Conclusions After simultaneously taking into account the influence of community-level and individual-level factors, community levels of social capital remained a relatively strong predictor of injury among girls but not boys. Such gender effects provide important clues into the social aetiology of youth injury.
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