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Seismic, structural, and individual factors associated with earthquake related injury
  1. C Peek-Asa1,
  2. M Ramirez2,
  3. H Seligson3,
  4. K Shoaf4
  1. 1Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, Iowa
  2. 2Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California
  3. 3ABS Consulting (formerly EQE International), Center for Advanced Planning and Research, Irvine, California
  4. 4Center for Public Health and Disasters, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California
  1. Correspondence and requests for reprints to:
 Corinne Peek-Asa, Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center, University of Iowa College of Public Health, 100 Oakdale Campus #114 IREH, Iowa City, IA 52242–5000, USA;
 corinne-peek-asa{at}uiowa.edu

Abstract

Background: Earthquakes cause thousands of deaths worldwide every year, and systematic study of the causes of these deaths can lead to their prevention. Few studies have examined how multiple types of risk factors are related to physical injury during an earthquake.

Methods: A population based case-control study was conducted to examine how individual characteristics, building characteristics, and seismic features of the 1994 Northridge, California, earthquake contributed to physical injury. Cases included fatal and hospital-admitted injuries caused by the earthquake. Controls were drawn from a population based phone survey of county residents. Cases were individually matched to two sets of controls: one matched by age and gender and one matched by location at the time of the earthquake.

Results: Individuals over age 65 had 2.9 times the risk of injury as younger people (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2 to 7.4) and women had a 2.4 times greater risk than men (95% CI 1.2 to 5.1). Location in multiple unit residential and commercial structures each led to increased injury risk compared with single unit residential structures, but the exact estimate varied depending on the control group used. With every increase in ground motion of 10%g, injury risk increased 2.2 times (95% CI 1.6 to 3.3).

Conclusions: Controlling for other factors, it was found that individual, building, and seismic characteristics were independently predictive of increased injury risk. Prevention and preparedness efforts should focus on each of these as potential points of intervention.

  • disaster
  • epidemiology
  • traumatic injury
  • case-control study
  • CI, confidence interval
  • MMI, modified Mercalli intensity (scale)
  • PGA, peak ground acceleration
  • disaster
  • epidemiology
  • traumatic injury
  • case-control study
  • CI, confidence interval
  • MMI, modified Mercalli intensity (scale)
  • PGA, peak ground acceleration
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