Injury hospitalizations are more likely among lower income groups: CIHI

June, 2010 – Injuries, either unintentional or intentional, are one of the leading causes of death and disability in Canada and resulted in more than 200,000 hospitalizations nationally in 2008–2009, according to a new analysis from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

After breaking down the Canadian population into five neighbourhood income levels, the analysis found Canadians living in the least affluent neighbourhoods were 30% more likely to have an injury leading to hospitalization than people living in the most affluent areas. If every socio-economic group had had the same injury hospitalization rate as the most affluent group, there would have been 21,000 fewer hospitalizations in 2008–2009, which may have resulted in estimated savings up to $167 million in hospital costs.

The study found differences in injury hospitalization rates by income level for most major types of unintentional injuries, which represented the vast majority (94%) of injury hospitalizations in Canada. Hospitalizations for falls, motor vehicle traffic injuries and injuries involving cutting or piercing by a household tool or other sharp object were highest in the least affluent neighbourhoods and lowest in the most affluent neighbourhoods. In contrast, hospitalization rates for injuries that were mainly sports-related, such as being struck by or against an object, were highest in the most affluent areas, potentially reflecting higher participation rates in organized sports. Among other highlights were the following:

  • Injuries from falls: The largest disparities were observed in older adults (age 45 to 64), where hospitalization rates for those who lived in the least affluent neighbourhoods were 50% higher than for those who resided in the most affluent areas. Falls were the most common cause of injury hospitalization in Canada, accounting for nearly two out of three injury hospitalizations.
  • Motor vehicle injuries: Disparities were present across all age groups except youth (age 15 to 24) and were the highest among children younger than 15 and adults age 24 to 64. Motor vehicle collisions were the second-most common cause of injury hospitalization in Canada, representing nearly 10% of all injury hospitalizations.
  • Assaults: Hospitalizations for assault-related injuries, which represented 4.4% of all injury hospitalizations in Canada, were three times higher in the lowest income neighbourhoods than in the most affluent neighbourhoods. Regardless of socio-economic status, men were at least four times more likely to be hospitalized for assault than women.

About CIHI

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) collects and analyzes information on health and health care in Canada and makes it publicly available. Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments created CIHI as a not-for-profit, independent organization dedicated to forging a common approach to Canadian health information. CIHI’s goal: to provide timely, accurate and comparable information. CIHI’s data and reports inform health policies, support the effective delivery of health services and raise awareness among Canadians of the factors that contribute to good health.