A new study has revealed that rural people suffer more trauma than those living in urban areas.
The study led by West Virginia University researchers found that injuries requiring hospitalisation occur at much higher rates in rural areas than in urban counties.
Moreover, the rate of self-inflicted injuries was also higher in rural areas.
Compared with urban counties, hospitalisation rates for injuries were 35 percent higher in sparsely populated rural counties and 27 percent higher in more populated rural counties.
"As the population density decreases, the risk continues to increase," said Jeffrey H. Coben, M.D., a professor in the WVU Injury Control Research Centre.
During the study, the researchers looked at all reported injuries of people who were admitted to hospitals for treatment in the United States in 2004, the last year for which data were available.
They found that large urban counties carried the highest hospitalisation rates for assaults, while rural counties led in hospitalisations for motor vehicle crashes, fall and poisonings and self inflicted injuries
"What we are seeing across-the-board is, in both fatal and nonfatal cases, people who live in rural areas suffer more trauma," said Coben.
Previous studies have shown that people who live in rural areas are more likely to take part in risky behaviours such as recreational drug use, drunken driving or failing to use seatbelts.
Moreover, a culture of self-reliance may cause people to undertake household fix-up chores that are inherently dangerous, such as roof repairs.
"All of this contributes to a high rate of serious trauma," Coben said.
The researchers found the average hospital bill per injury was 27,000 dollars - a sum that did not include follow-up rehabilitative care or the costs of long-term care that a spinal-cord injury, for instance, might require.
"Those states having a high percentage of people in rural communities might want to give a high priority to implementing policies and programs to prevent injuries," said Coben.