Dissertations & Theses (Open Access)

Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Melissa B Harrell, Mph, Phd

Second Advisor

Katelyn K Jetelina, Mph, Phd


Physical assaults are a major public health concern in the United States, with rates being on the rise during the last couple of years (WISQARS Nonfatal Injury Reports, n.d.). In Austin at the Dell Seton Medical Center [DSMC], physical assaults are a main reason for hospitalization, making up nearly 10% of their hospitalizations, with around 250 patients per year. No subgroup of the population is risk free from physical assaults; however, national data suggest some sociodemographic groups are at higher risk than others (“Injury and Violence Prevention”, n.d.). Given the diversity of Austin, TX, it was unclear whether local sociodemographic trends reflect national disparities or whether these risk groups have changed over time. It was also unclear if there was a geographic pattern in terms of geospatial patterns of assaults in Austin. These types of analyses can be incredibly valuable when developing and implementing pointed primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions aimed at decreasing physical assaults. The objective of this study was to assess trends in the prevalence of physical assault hospitalizations at DSMC from 2015 to 2018 by seasonal or

event period, sociodemographic risk factors (e.g., sex, race/ethnicity, age group), geographic location, and mechanism of injury. Data was extracted from DSMC’s injury patient registry, which currently utilizes ICD-10 diagnosis codes within electronic health records (EHR). Data was analyzed using Stata with one or two sample tests of proportions to compare physical assaults over time, between and across sociodemographic groups, and by mechanism of injury. In addition, hot spot maps, by zip code, were used to describe the geospatial distribution of physical assaults in that end up at Dell Seton Medical Center. Results showed males, Blacks, and 25-34-year-old’s to be at greater risk of being hospitalized for assault. The warmer months of the year, April-June and July-September, showed to have greater number of assault hospitalizations, most likely due to the heat hypothesis. Two music festivals analyzed, ACL and SXSW, showed no significant increase or decrease between 2015 to 2018. A disproportionate amount of assaults from the sample occurred in 7870