Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, JAMA, Pediatrics / 08.03.2016
Could Busy Streets and Improved Environment Reduce Teen Homicides?
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alison Culyba, MD MPH Adolescent Medicine Advanced Research Fellow Craig-Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia PhD Candidate, Epidemiology Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Culyba: Youth violence is a major public health problem. Homicide is the second leading cause of death among all adolescents in the U.S., and the number one cause of death among African American adolescents. Prom prior research, we know that where you live and where you spend time has a major impact on health, and that making changes to environments, such as greening vacant lots and remediating abandoned buildings, can significantly reduce crime. However, much less is known about the relationship between adolescent’s immediate surroundings and the risk of homicide. The goal of this study was to examine associations between neighborhood environmental features, such as streets, buildings, and natural surroundings and adolescent homicide. We conducted a population-based case control study of 143 adolescents, ages 13 to 20, who were victims of homicides in Philadelphia and 155 matched controls in the same range, who were outdoors in Philadelphia at the same time that the homicides occurred. To assess features in the immediate environments of homicide victims and control individuals, trained field staff stood on the street corner of each homicide and control location and took a series of photographs that we stitched together into 360-degree high resolution panoramas, which we assessed for environmental features. After accounting for many individual and neighborhood contextual factors, we found that the odds of homicide was significantly lower in locations with street lighting, pedestrian infrastructure, public transportation, parks, and maintained vacant lots. (more…)