When prevention efforts fail, injured children require high-quality health services to support their recovery. Disparities in non-fatal injury outcomes, an indicator of health-care quality, have received minimal attention. We evaluated the extent to which general trauma follow-up studies published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature provide evidence of socially patterned inequities in health, functional or disability outcomes ≥4 weeks after childhood injuries. Using a systematic search, we identified 27 eligible cohort studies from 13 high-income countries. We examined the extent to which the reported health outcomes varied across the PROGRESS criteria: place of residence, race/ethnicity, occupation, gender/sex, religion, socio-economic status, and social capital. The available evidence on differential outcomes is limited as many studies were compromised by selection or retention biases that reduced the participation of children from demographic groups at increased risk of adverse outcomes, or the analyses mainly focused on variations in outcomes by sex. Given the limited research evidence, we recommend greater attention to systematic collection and reporting of non-fatal injury outcomes disaggregated by socio-demographic indicators in order to identify disparities where these exist and inform equity-focused interventions promoting the recovery of injured children.
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