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Injury is the leading cause of death for Americans from infancy to middle age. Thirty-seven per cent of injuries admitted to this faculty are the result of personal violence.
A prospective pilot study sought to elucidate the circumstances of such injuries. Medical records of all admissions for gunshot wounds, stab wounds or assault during a 30-day period were reviewed (N = 105). A subset (N = 32) were interviewed and given psychometric tests.
Distribution by mode of injury was assault, 46 per cent; stabbing, 42 per cent; shooting, 12 per cent. Single, black males aged 18–44 dominated the sample. Injuries tended to occur in or near bars (82 per cent), between 1800 and 0600 hours (79 per cent) and were accompanied by alcoholic intoxication (63 per cent). Un- or underemployment was prevalent (56 per cent). Thirty-eight per cent of incomes were below the official poverty level. Some victims were illiterate. Histories of previous violent encounters (mean number = 22) during the year before the injury and hospital treatment for previous injury were common (56 per cent). Those interviewed reported high frequencies of recent and developmental stresses. The yearly cost of the acute care of patients with injuries caused by violence and treated at this hospital is estimated to be $8 000 000. Of this 80 per cent is paid for with public funds. Personal violence is a serious but neglected part of public health.
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Accepted: December 1, 1986
☆Financial Support for this study was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Medical Research and Program Development Award, and by the National Institutes of Health, Task Force on Minority Health.
© 1987 Published by Elsevier Inc.