Disaster-related injuries in the period of recovery: The effect of prolonged displacement on risk of injury in older adults

Lori Uscher-Pines, Jon S. Vernick, Frank Curriero, Richard Lieberman, Thomas A. Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in August 2005, initially displaced over a million people from their primary place of residence. Displaced older adults subsequently faced challenges, such as new or inferior living conditions, which could increase vulnerability to serious or life-threatening injuries such as hip fracture. The aim of this study was to determine whether Katrina victims who were displaced for a prolonged period of time were more likely to experience injuries than nondisplaced victims. Methods: We tracked injury outcomes including fractures, sprains or strains, and lacerations in a cohort of 25,019 older adults (age ≥ 65 years) enrolled in a Medicare-Advantage Plan, for 1 year after Katrina. We used medical claims to obtain injury outcomes and analyzed propensity-score adjusted predictors of injury, including displacement status at 12 months. Results: In our sample, 7,030 (28%) older adults were displaced at 12-month post-Katrina. Displaced victims had 1.53 (95% CI: 1.10-2.13) greater odds of sustaining a hip fracture in the year after the storm and 1.24 (95% CI: 1.07-1.44) greater odds of sustaining other fractures after adjusting for other risk factors. There was no significant association between displacement status at 12 months and sprains or strains or lacerations. Conclusions: Prolonged displacement is associated with increased risk of fracture in older adults. Emergency planners should screen temporary housing for injury hazards, and clinicians should regard displaced older adults as a vulnerable population in need of interventions such as risk communication messaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)834-840
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Volume67
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009

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Keywords

  • Disasters
  • Displacement
  • Hip fracture
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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