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Are injuries spatially related? Join–count spatial autocorrelation for small-area injury analysis
  1. N Bell1,
  2. N Schuurman1,
  3. S M Hameed2
  1. 1
    Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2
    Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. N Bell, Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5A 1S6; njbell{at}


Objective: To present a geographic information systems (GIS) method for exploring the spatial pattern of injuries and to demonstrate the utility of using this method in conjunction with classic ecological models of injury patterns.

Design: Profiles of patients’ socioeconomic status (SES) were constructed by linking their postal code of residence to the census dissemination area that encompassed its location. Data were then integrated into a GIS, enabling the analysis of neighborhood contiguity and SES on incidence of injury.

Setting: Data for this analysis (2001–2006) were obtained from the British Columbia Trauma Registry. Neighborhood SES was calculated using the Vancouver Area Neighborhood Deprivation Index. Spatial analysis was conducted using a join–count spatial autocorrelation algorithm.

Patients: Male and female patients over the age of 18 and hospitalized from severe injury (Injury Severity Score >12) resulting from an assault or intentional self-harm and included in the British Columbia Trauma Registry were analyzed.

Results: Male patients injured by assault and who resided in adjoining census areas were observed 1.3 to 5 times more often than would be expected under a random spatial pattern. Adjoining neighborhood clustering was less visible for residential patterns of patients hospitalized with injuries sustained from self-harm. A social gradient in assault injury rates existed separately for men and neighborhood SES, but less than would be expected when stratified by age, gender, and neighborhood. No social gradient between intentional injury from self-harm and neighborhood SES was observed.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the added utility of integrating GIS technology into injury prevention research. Crucial information on the associated social and environmental influences of intentional injury patterns may be under-recognized if a spatial analysis is not also conducted. The join–count spatial autocorrelation is an ideal approach for investigating the interconnectedness of injury patterns that are rare and occur in only a small percentage of the population.

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  • Funding: This research was funded through a grant from the Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems (MITACS).

  • Competing interests: None.

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