Symptomatic Fracture Incidence in Southern Tasmania: Does Living in the Country Reduce Your Fracture Risk?
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There are limited data describing urban–rural differences in fracture incidence and the overall effect remains controversial. The aim of this study was to compare symptomatic fracture incidence occurring in geographically defined rural (n= 34 619) and urban (n = 194 974) populations of Southern Tasmania from July 1, 1997 to June 30, 1999. Fractures were ascertained by reviewing reports from all the radiology providers within the area. In the 2-year study time frame there were 3644 fractures in males and 2657 fractures in females. Fracture incidence was significantly higher in urban compared with rural populations in both sexes (male: RR 1.60, 95% CI 1.47–1.75; female: RR 1.77, 95% CI 1.58–1.98). This higher urban fracture incidence was present across all age groups and all fracture types with the exception of knee and pelvis fractures in males (although not all were statistically significant). In addition, urban men >50 years old had a higher fracture incidence than rural women >50 years old (RR 1.25, 95% CI 1.05–1.50), suggesting that in later life the factors responsible for the urban–rural difference are able to offset completely the effect of gender. While some of the reduced fracture incidence in the rural population may be explained by urban drift and underreporting of minor fractures such as foot fractures, the overall pattern of higher fracture risk was very consistent, suggesting a real difference in whole-of-life symptomatic fracture incidence. Further research at an individual level is required to determine what factors account for these large urban–rural differences, as they imply a substantial potential for fracture prevention.
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