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Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
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 >or= 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.
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