Introduction.The purpose of this ecological study was to apply GIS methods to patterns of traumatic injury and access to trauma care to facilitate system planning and advocacy.
Methods. Four state (Colorado) and national data sources were linked to examine county-level disparities. Average ambulance drive times to trauma centers for populated places in each county were estimated and mapped.
Results. Independent samples t-tests demonstrated Colorado’s rural counties had significantly higher injury hospitalization rates [M=685.4 vs. M=566.3; p=0.005] and fatality rates [M=93.8 vs. M=71.6, p<0.001], indicating residents with the least access to care are the most impacted by the burden of injury; this finding was supported by GIS analyses of drive times to Level I and II trauma centers and underlying injury rates, which are visually displayed.
Conclusions. These methods are useful tools for rural public health professionals to conduct system optimization, identify training and resource needs, assess prevention priorities, and advocate for trauma system support.