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Major cities often the safest places in the US, Penn Medicine study finds
Date:7/22/2013

PHILADELPHIA - Overturning a commonly-held belief that cities are inherently more dangerous than suburban and rural communities, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have found that risk of death from injuries is lowest on average in urban counties compared to suburban and rural counties across the U.S. The new study, which appears online ahead of print in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, found that for the entire population, as well as for most age subgroups, the top three causes of death were motor vehicle collisions, firearms, and poisoning. When all types of fatal injuries are considered together, risk of injury-related death was approximately 20 percent lower in urban areas than in the most rural areas of the country.

"Perceptions have long existed that cities were innately more dangerous than areas outside of cities, but our study shows this is not the case" said lead study author, Sage R. Myers, MD, MSCE, assistant professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine and attending physician, Department of Emergency Medicine at CHOP. "These findings may lead people who are considering leaving cities for non-urban areas due to safety concerns to re-examine their motivations for moving. And we hope the findings could also lead us to re-evaluate our rural health care system and more appropriately equip it to both prevent and treat the health threats that actually exist."

The study examined county-level data on all injury deaths across the U.S. from 1999-2006 (because of their unusual nature, deaths from the 9-11 terrorist attacks were excluded).

Findings from the study support prior work showing that overall homicide rates are lower in rural areas than urban areas. This was found to be true in all age groups, except the oldest adults (over 65 years old). Suicide rates, on the other hand, showed an increase with rurality, but
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Contact: Jessica Mikulski
jessica.mikulski@uphs.upenn.edu
215-796-4829
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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