More efforts needed to address motor vehicle deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives

January 30, 2012

More research and programs are needed to address the elevated rate of motor vehicle-related deaths among American Indian and Alaska Native populations, according to new research from the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. To better understand this racial and ethnic disparity, the authors conducted a systematic review of literature published over the past twenty years and found just seven studies describing the problem, and only seven that tested interventions. This is the first published review of the evidence on risk factors and interventions addressing this disparity, and appears in the January issue of Epidemiologic Reviews.

Despite overall declines in deaths in the U.S., deaths are highest among American Indian and Alaska Natives, with a motor vehicle death rate that is three times the rate for the Asian and Pacific Islander population—the population with the lowest rate.

"The small number of studies in the peer-reviewed literature is surprising given the enormous human and economic impact of motor vehicle-related deaths in this population," said lead study author Keshia Pollack, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, part of the Bloomberg School of Public Health. "If injury disparities are going to be eliminated, support for research and programs targeting those groups disproportionately impacted needs to be made more readily available."

The study researchers identified published studies in the peer-reviewed literature by searching public health databases for articles published between January 1, 1990, and January 31, 2011. They also searched relevant websites such as those for the Indian Health Service (IHS), the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and individual electronic issues of the IHS Primary Care Provider, a journal devoted to articles of interest to Indian Health Service, tribal, and urban Indian health care professional providers.

The existing literature suggests that multiple involving behavior, policy, and environmental factors are behind the , including the large numbers of American Indians and Alaskan Natives who live in rural communities, and use and availability of alcohol. Pedestrian involvement in crashes was another common theme the researchers gleaned from the literature, likely a result of road conditions in rural areas and/or reservations, which often lack traffic control devices and artificial lighting, and alcohol use. Despite the frequency of pedestrian-related deaths, the researchers were not able to identify any interventions implemented that specifically sought to improve pedestrian safety.

"Studies like this give a bird's-eye view on the problem," said Pollack. "In addition to discovering gaps in the existing research and programs, we're able to identify promising interventions worthy of replication. Priority should be given to interventions that combine multiple methods and use partnerships to change policy, the environment, and individual behavior."

Explore further: Racial disparities reduced in injury related mortality

More information: "Motor Vehicle Deaths Among American Indian and Alaska Native Populations" Epidemiologic Reviews.

Related Stories

Racial disparities reduced in injury related mortality

June 16, 2008

When it comes to injury-related deaths, the gap between black and white American youths is narrowing, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study found that between ...

Fatal injuries increase in older Americans

April 5, 2010

The risk of dying from injuries is increasing for Americans ages 65 and older according to a new report from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Injury Research and Policy. The report found significant ...

Recommended for you

Model shows how surge in wealth inequality may be reversed

July 30, 2015

(Phys.org)—For many Americans, the single biggest problem facing the country is the growing wealth inequality. Based on income tax data, wealth inequality in the US has steadily increased since the mid-1980s, with the top ...

Earliest evidence of reproduction in a complex organism

August 3, 2015

Researchers led by the University of Cambridge have found the earliest example of reproduction in a complex organism. Their new study has found that some organisms known as rangeomorphs, which lived 565 million years ago, ...

French teen finds 560,000 year-old tooth (Update)

July 28, 2015

A 16-year-old French volunteer archaeologist has found an adult tooth dating back around 560,000 years in southwestern France, in what researchers hailed as a "major discovery" Tuesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.