The Association Between Urban Tree Cover and Gun Assault: A Case-Control and Case-Crossover Study

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The Association Between Urban Tree Cover and Gun Assault: A Case-Control and Case-Crossover Study

Category: Crime, Homicide, Injury, Men|Journal: American Journal of Epidemiology (full text)|Author: C Branas, D Wiebe, E South, M Kondo, T Richmond|Year: 2017

Green space and vegetation may play a protective role against urban violence. We investigated whether being near urban tree cover during outdoor activities was related to being assaulted with a gun. We conducted geographic information systems–assisted interviews with boys and men aged 10–24 years in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, including 135 patients who had been shot with a firearm and 274 community controls, during 2008–2011. Each subject reported a step-by-step mapped account of where and with whom they traveled over a full day from waking until being assaulted or going to bed. Geocoded path points were overlaid on mapped layers representing tree locations and place-specific characteristics. Conditional logistic regressions were used to compare case subjects versus controls (case-control) and case subjects at the time of injury versus times earlier that day (case-crossover). When comparing cases at the time of assault to controls matched at the same time of day, being under tree cover was inversely associated with gunshot assault (odds ratio (OR) = 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.55, 0.88), especially in low-income areas (OR = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.54, 0.87). Case-crossover models confirmed this inverse association overall (OR = 0.55, 95% CI: 0.34, 0.89) and in low-income areas (OR = 0.54, 95% CI: 0.33, 0.88). Urban greening and tree cover may hold promise as proactive strategies to decrease urban violence.

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