Injury is the leading cause of death for the U.S. population aged 1-44 years, the leading cause of disability across all age groups, and profoundly impacts mental health, productivity, and health expenditures. Assault-, motor-vehicle-, and fall related injuries result in nearly 30 deaths, over 700 hospitalizations, and over 6,500 emergency department visits per year in the alliance communities. The impact on the community, however, goes far beyond injury.
A key theme that emerged from interviews with community festival participants was concern for safety and crime. While crime was a major concern across the region, Worcester respondents particularly expressed concerns regarding safety in their neighborhoods. Several respondents cited gang violence, drug dealing, and slow responses by law enforcement to emergency calls as major concerns. Participants expressed that violence can affect health by causing stress and preventing residents from accessing and utilizing health-promoting resources such as healthy food outlets, public parks, or green spaces due to concerns about safety.
Data reported by hospital emergency departments to the Weapon Related Injury Surveillance System (2008-2011) shows Worcester as having the lowest weapon-related injury rate among the three municipalities in the state with a population greater than 150,000 and the fourth lowest rate among the twelve municipalities in the state with a population greater than 75,000. Despite the comparably low rate, residents of Worcester perceive a high sense of hazard in their day-to-day lives.
Sources: Greater Worcester Region Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP)