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Snow avalanche deaths in Switzerland from 1995 to 2014—Results of a nation-wide linkage study


Berlin, Claudia; Techel, Frank; Moor, Beat Kaspar; Zwahlen, Marcel; Hasler, Rebecca Maria (2019). Snow avalanche deaths in Switzerland from 1995 to 2014—Results of a nation-wide linkage study. PLoS ONE, 14(12):e0225735.

Abstract

Objectives
More than 20 people die each year in snow avalanches in Switzerland. Previous studies have primarily described these victims, but were not population based. We investigated sociodemographic factors for avalanche mortality between 1995 and 2014 in the entire Swiss resident population.
Design and methods
Within the Swiss National Cohort we ascertained avalanche deaths by anonymous data linkage with the avalanche accident database at the Swiss WSL Institute of Snow and Avalanche Research SLF. We calculated incidence rates, by dividing the number of deaths from avalanches by the number of person-years, and hazard ratios (HRs) for sociodemographic and economic characteristics using Cox proportional hazard models.
Results
The data linkage yielded 250 deaths from avalanche within the SNC population for the 20 years 1995 to 2014. The median distance between the place of residence and the place of the event (avalanche) was 61.1 km. Male gender, younger age (15–45 years), Swiss nationality, living in the Alpine regions, higher education, living in the highest socioeconomic quintile of neighbourhoods, being single, and living in a household with one or more children were associated with higher avalanche mortality rates. Furthermore, for younger persons (<40 years) the hazard of dying in an avalanche between 2005 and 2014 was significantly lower than in the years 1995 to 2004 (HR = 0.56, 95%-CI: 0.36–0.85).
Conclusion
Over a 20-year period in Switzerland, higher rates of dying in an avalanche were observed in men, in younger age groups, and persons with tertiary education, living in the highest socioeconomic quintile of neighbourhoods, and living in an Alpine region. For younger persons (<40 years), the hazard declined during the study period.

Abstract

Objectives
More than 20 people die each year in snow avalanches in Switzerland. Previous studies have primarily described these victims, but were not population based. We investigated sociodemographic factors for avalanche mortality between 1995 and 2014 in the entire Swiss resident population.
Design and methods
Within the Swiss National Cohort we ascertained avalanche deaths by anonymous data linkage with the avalanche accident database at the Swiss WSL Institute of Snow and Avalanche Research SLF. We calculated incidence rates, by dividing the number of deaths from avalanches by the number of person-years, and hazard ratios (HRs) for sociodemographic and economic characteristics using Cox proportional hazard models.
Results
The data linkage yielded 250 deaths from avalanche within the SNC population for the 20 years 1995 to 2014. The median distance between the place of residence and the place of the event (avalanche) was 61.1 km. Male gender, younger age (15–45 years), Swiss nationality, living in the Alpine regions, higher education, living in the highest socioeconomic quintile of neighbourhoods, being single, and living in a household with one or more children were associated with higher avalanche mortality rates. Furthermore, for younger persons (<40 years) the hazard of dying in an avalanche between 2005 and 2014 was significantly lower than in the years 1995 to 2004 (HR = 0.56, 95%-CI: 0.36–0.85).
Conclusion
Over a 20-year period in Switzerland, higher rates of dying in an avalanche were observed in men, in younger age groups, and persons with tertiary education, living in the highest socioeconomic quintile of neighbourhoods, and living in an Alpine region. For younger persons (<40 years), the hazard declined during the study period.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Department of Trauma Surgery
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Agricultural and Biological Sciences, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:3 December 2019
Deposited On:10 Dec 2019 15:47
Last Modified:10 Dec 2019 15:48
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0225735
PubMed ID:31794568

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