Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Recurrent episodes of injury in children: an Australian cohort study

Cate M. Cameron A G , Anneliese B. Spinks B C , Jodie M. Osborne A , Tamzyn M. Davey D , Neil Sipe E and Roderick J. McClure F

A Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Logan campus, University Drive, Meadowbrook, Qld 4131, Australia. Email: j.osborne@griffith.edu.au

B Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), 41 Boggo Road, Dutton Park, Qld 4102, Australia. Email: Anneliese.Spinks@csiro.au

C School of Medicine, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Road, Nathan, Qld 4111, Australia.

D Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Science, School of Public Health Room 429A, Level 4 Public Health Building, Herston Campus, The University of Queensland, Qld 4006, Australia. Email: t.davey@uq.edu.au

E School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, Chamberlain Building (35), The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia. Email: n.sipe@uq.edu.au

F Visiting Scientist, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Kresge Building, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Email: rmcclure@hsph.harvard.edu

G Corresponding author. Email: cate.cameron@griffith.edu.au

Australian Health Review - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AH15193
Submitted: 15 October 2015  Accepted: 12 July 2016   Published online: 19 August 2016

Abstract

Objective The aim of the present study was to compare sociodemographic characteristics of children with single versus recurrent episodes of injury and provide contemporary evidence for Australian injury prevention policy development.

Methods Participants were identified from the Environments for Healthy Living: Griffith Birth Cohort Study 2006–11 (n = 2692). Demographic data were linked to the child’s hospital emergency and admissions data from birth to December 2013. Data were dichotomised in two ways: (1) injured or non-injured; and (2) single or recurrent episodes of injury. Multivariate logistic regression was used for analysis.

Results The adjusted model identified two factors significantly associated with recurrent episodes of injury in children aged <3 years. Children born to mothers <25 years were almost fourfold more likely to have recurrent episodes of injury compared with children of mothers aged ≥35 years (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 3.68; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.44–9.39) and, as a child’s age at first injury increased, odds of experiencing recurrent episodes of injury decreased (aOR = 0.97; 95% CI 0.94–0.99). No differences were found in sociodemographic characteristics of children aged 3–7 years with single versus recurrent episodes of injury (P > 0.1).

Conclusion National priorities should include targeted programs addressing the higher odds of recurrent episodes of injury experienced by children aged <3 years with younger mothers or those injured in the first 18 months of life.

What is known about the topic? Children who experience recurrent episodes of injury are at greater risk of serious or irrecoverable harm, particularly when repeat trauma occurs in the early years of life.

What does the paper add? The present study identifies key factors associated with recurrent episodes of injury in young Australian children. This is imperative to inform evidence-based national injury prevention policy development in line with the recent expiry of the National Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Plan: 2004–2014.

What are the implications for practitioners? Injury prevention efforts need to target the increased injury risk experienced by families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and, as a priority, children under 3 years of age with younger mothers and children who are injured in the first 18 months of life. These families require access to education programs, resources, equipment and support, particularly in the child’s early years. These programs could be provided as part of the routine paediatric and child health visits available to families after their child’s birth or incorporated into hospital and general practitioner injury treatment plans.


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