The firearm-related mortality in Finland is one of the highest in Europe. The study objective was to describe the incidence trends and nature of firearm-related injury hospitalizations in Finland between 1990 and 2003.
We included all firearm-related injury hospitalizations between 1990 and 2003. The data were obtained from the Finnish National Hospital Discharge Register. Only events with traumatic physical injuries were included.
The overall incidence of firearm-related injury hospitalization was 5.1 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 34.5-5.7) per 100,000 person-years in 1990 and 2.6 (95% CI: 2.1-3.0) in 2003. The absolute numbers were 254 and 133, respectively. Unintentional injuries accounted for 44% of injuries during the study period. Hospitalization incidence resulting from intentional firearm-related injuries (self-inflicted and assault) remained unaltered over the study period. Men's injury incidence was 10.0 times (95% CI: 8.8-11.4) that of women's. Young men aged 15 to 34 years displayed the highest incidence figures. The most common types of the firearm-related injuries were open wounds (52%) and fractures (17%). Anatomically they involved the head and the neck (35%), the lower limb (28%), and the trunk (19%).
Although the total incidence of firearm-related injuries decreased in Finland during the 14-year study period, the incidence of intentional firearm-related injuries remained at the same level. Finding information on the risk factors of firearm-related injuries and the reasons for the steady level of intentional injuries are the next steps toward preventive measures.