The Epidemiology of Finding a Dead Body: Reports from Inner-City Baltimore, Maryland US
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In the US, there are no national statistics on encountering a dead body, which can be viewed as a measure of community health and a stressful life event. Participants for an HIV prevention intervention targeting drug users were recruited in areas of inner-city Baltimore, Maryland. Nine hundred and fifty-one respondents, most with a history of drug use, were asked “have you ever found a dead body?” and 17.0% reported they had. Leading causes of death were: violence (37%), natural causes (22.2%), drug overdose (21.6%), accidental death (3.1%), and suicide (2.5%). In multivariate logistic models, respondents with longer history of drug use and more roles in a drug economy were more likely to be exposed to a dead body. The study results suggest that this population has a high level of experiences with mortality associated with violence and drugs. To obtain a better understanding of community health, future studies should assess not only morbidity and mortality, but also how death and illness is experienced by the community.
KeywordsUrban health Mortality Drug use Violence Mental health
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