Social environments, risk-taking and injury in farm adolescents

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BackgroundFarm environments are especially hazardous for young people. While much is known about acute physical causes of traumatic farm injury, little is known about social factors that may underlie their aetiology.ObjectivesIn a nationally representative sample of young Canadians aged 11–15 years, we described and compared farm and non-farm adolescents in terms of the qualities of their social environments, engagement in overt multiple risk-taking as well as how such exposures relate aetiologically to their reported injury experiences.MethodsCross-sectional analysis of survey reports from the 2014 (Cycle 7) Canadian Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children study was conducted. Children (n=2567; 2534 weighted) who reported living or working on farms were matched within schools in a 1:1 ratio with children not living or working on farms. Scales examining quality of social environments and overt risk-taking were compared between the two groups, stratified by gender. We then related the occurrence of any serious injury to these social exposures in direct and interactive models.ResultsFarm and non-farm children reported social environments that were quite similar, with the exception of overt multiple risk-taking, which was demonstrably higher in farm children of both genders. Engagement in overt risk-taking, but not the other social environmental factors, was strongly and consistently associated with risks for serious injury in farm as well as non-farm children, particularly among males.ConclusionsStudy findings highlight the strength of associations between overt multiple risk-taking and injury among farm children. This appears to be a normative aspect of adolescent farm culture.

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