Prevalence and correlates of unintentional nonfatal injuries among school-going adolescents in Central America

Supa Pengpid, Karl Peltzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study is to report on the frequency of serious physical injuries (SPI) among adolescents in Central America during the previous decade, 2009-2018. In total, 15,807 school adolescents (14.4 years mean age; SD=1.4) from six Central American countries participated in cross-sectional Global School-based Student Health Surveys in 2009-2018 (ranging from 1,779 students in Honduras in 2012 to 4,374 students in Guatemala in 2015). The prevalence of SPI was 33.8 % (22.9 % once, 7.4 % 2 or 3 times and 3.6 % 4 or more times), ranging from 31.8 % in Guatemala to 45.0 % in Belize and 45.6 % in Panama. The most frequent causes of SPI included fall (11.4 %, ranging from 6.9 % in Costa Rica to 15.6 % in Panama), and the type of SPI was fracture/dislocation (5.7 %, ranging from 4.3 % in Costa Rica to 6.7 % in Panama). In adjusted Poisson regression, male sex, food insecurity, a history of alcohol intoxication, soft drink consumption, fast food intake, truancy, multiple sexual partners, psychological distress, physical fight, physically attacked, bullied, and suicide attempt were significantly associated with a higher number of injury event counts. Overall, about one in three adolescents in Central America had sustained unintentional injuries in the past 12 months and several contributing factors were identified which if addressed could aid injury prevention among adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Central America
  • health risk behavior
  • injury
  • mental health
  • school adolescents


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