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A case-control study of risk factors for playground injuries among children in Kingston and area
  1. David L Mowat1,
  2. Feng Wang1,
  3. William Pickett2,
  4. Robert J Brison2
  1. 1Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Health Unit and Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Health Unit and Department of Community Health and Epidemiology and Department of Emergency Medicine, Queen's University
  1. Correspondence to: Dr David Mowat, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Health Unit, 221 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, Ontario K7M 1V5, Canada.


Objective—To determine the risk for injury associated with environmental hazards in public playgrounds.

Setting—One hundred and seventeen playgrounds operated by municipalities or school boards in and around Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Methods—A regional surveillance database was used to identify children presenting to emergency departments who were injured on public playgrounds; each case was individually matched (by sex, age, and month of occurrence) with two controls—one non-playground injury control, and one child seen for non-injury emergency medical care. Exposure data were obtained from an audit of playgrounds conducted using Canadian and US safety guidelines. Exposure variables included the nature of playground hazards, number of hazards, frequency of play, and total family income. No difference in odds ratios (ORs) were found using the two sets of controls, which were therefore combined for subsequent analysis.

Results—Multivariate analysis showed strong associations between injuries and the use of inappropriate surface materials under and around equipment (OR 21.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.4 to 128.1), appropriate materials with insufficient depth (OR 18.2, 95% CI 3.3 to 99.9), and inadequate handrails or guardrails (OR 6.7, 95% CI 2.6 to 17.5).

Conclusion—This study confirms the validity of guidelines for playground safety relating to the type and depth of surface materials and the provision of handrails and guardrails. Compliance with these guidelines is an important means of preventing injury in childhood.

  • population health
  • playground
  • case-control

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