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Comparing pediatric intentional injury surveillance data with data from publicly available sources: consequences for a public health response to violence
  1. David A Stone1,
  2. Sigmund J Kharasch2,
  3. Catherine Perron3,
  4. Kim Wilson4,
  5. Beth Jacklin5,
  6. Robert D Sege1
  1. 1Department of Pediatrics, Pediatric and Adolescent Health Research Center, Floating Hospital for Children at New England Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine
  2. 2Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine
  3. 3Department of Pediatrics, Division of Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital, Harvard University
  4. 4Children's Hospital, Martha Elliot Health Center
  5. 5Pediatric and Adolescent Health Research Center, Floating Hospital for Children at New England Medical Center
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Robert D Sege, Pediatric and Adolescent Health Research Center, New England Medical Center, Box 531, 750 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, USA
 (e-mail: robert.sege{at}


Objective—A hospital based intentional injury surveillance system for youth (aged 3–18) was compared with other publicly available sources of information on youth violence. The comparison addressed whether locally conducted surveillance provides data that are sufficiently more complete, detailed, and timely that clinicians and public health practitioners interested in youth violence prevention would find surveillance worth conducting.

Setting—The Boston Emergency Department Surveillance (BEDS) project was conducted at Boston Medical Center and the Children's Hospital, Boston.

Method—MEDLINE and other databases were searched for data sources that report separate data for youth and data on intentional injury. Sources that met these criteria (one national and three local) were then compared with BEDS data. Comparisons were made in the following categories: age, gender, victim-offender relationship, injury circumstance, geographic location, weapon rates, and violent injury rates.

Results—Of 14 sources dealing with violence, only four met inclusion criteria. Each source provided useful breakdowns for age and gender; however, only the BEDS data were able to demonstrate that 32.6% of intentional injuries occurred among youth aged 12 and under. Comparison data sources provided less detail regarding the victim-offender relationship, injury circumstance, and weapon use. Comparison of violent injury rates showed the difficulties for practitioners estimating intentional injury from sources based on arrest data, crime victim data, or weapon related injury.

Conclusions—Comparison suggests that surveillance is more complete, detailed, and timely than publicly available sources of data. Clinicians and public health practitioners should consider developing similar systems.

  • violence
  • surveillance
  • youth
  • emergency department

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