On April 15, 2016 the 2013 Arizona American Indian Trauma Report was released. The goal of the collaborative reporting effort, between representatives of the Arizona tribal health care community and the Arizona Department of Health Services, was to assist in the reduction of trauma within the Arizona American Indian community.
The report found that compared to all other racial/ethnic groups, Arizona American Indians living on or off of tribal lands have:
Two times higher rates of traumatic injury
Nine times higher rates of homicide
Three times higher rates of suicide
35% more traumas involving alcohol use
22% less safety restraint use in motor vehicle crashes
In 2013, there were 3,702 traumatic injuries among American Indians in Arizona. Of those, 51 were fatal. As a result, American Indians had the second highest trauma mortality rate in the state (17 deaths per 100,000) when compared to other racial/ethnic groups. Blacks, had the highest trauma mortality rate with 19 deaths per 100,000 Arizona residents.
In 2013, American Indians made up approximately 4.7% of Arizona’s population, but accounted for over 11% of traumatic injury cases. The rate of traumatic injury among American Indians in 2013 was 1,198 per 100,000 Arizona residents, over twice that of any other racial/ethnic group.
Fifty-four percent of Arizona’s American Indian population lived in rural counties in 2013, as compared to 14% of residents from other racial/ethnic groups. The rate of traumatic injury among rural-dwelling American Indians was over two times higher than that of urban dwelling American Indians and 72% of traumas involving American Indians occurred in rural areas.
In 2013, the Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) rate for Arizona American Indians (624 per 100,000) was second only to blacks (811 per 100,000). Major factors that may be contributing to higher YPLL rates among these populations are the mechanism, severity, and age of injury.
The rate of traumatic injury among American Indian males was nearly three times that of other racial/ethnic groups. The rate of traumatic injury among American Indian females was two times higher than that of other racial/ethnic groups.
Hospital trauma charges for Arizona American Indians totaled $125,174,466 in 2013. The majority of charges were billed to AHCCCS/Medicaid (65.9%).
American Indians had higher rates of traumatic injury across all age categories. The highest rate was observed among the elderly American Indian Population (3,122 per 100,000).
Most notably, the rate of homicide among American Indians was nine times higher than other racial/ethnic groups. Additionally, the rate of suicide was three times higher among American Indians than other racial/ethnic groups.
American Indians had higher rates of traumatic injury as compared to other racial/ethnic groups, regardless of injury intent.
The top five mechanisms of traumatic injury for American Indians in 2013 were: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Struck by/Against, Falls, Cut/Pierce, and Other Transportation. American Indians had higher rates of trauma across all five mechanisms when compared to other racial/ethnic groups. The greatest disparity in rate was observed among Struck by/Against traumas.
Alcohol use was suspected in 49% of traumatic injuries involving American Indians, compared to 14% of injuries involving other racial/ethnic groups. American Indians also had a higher percentage of trauma cases related to drug use.
The percent of suspected alcohol use among American Indians was higher compared to other racial/ethnic groups regardless of injury mechanism. Among American Indians, the proportion of alcohol related trauma was highest for Cut/Pierce and Struck by/ Against.
Safety restraint use in motor vehicle crashes, was less common among American Indians than among other racial/ethnic groups. When alcohol was involved, restraint use was decreased by 23% among American Indians. The use of safety restraints reduces the risk of serious injury and death by about half*.
In Arizona, most Level IV trauma centers are located in rural counties while all Level I trauma centers are located in urban counties. Because of this, a larger proportion of American Indians were transported to a Level IV trauma center while a larger proportion of other racial/ethnic groups were transported to Level I trauma centers.