BACKGROUND: Repeated injury, or recidivism, because of intentional or unintentional injury is a growing chronic health problem among urban adolescents and young adults in the United States. OBJECTIVE: To describe demographic, social, environmental, psychological, and developmental antecedents and risk-taking behaviors, and to examine their relationships to type of trauma and rate of trauma recidivism in adolescent and young adults in an urban trauma center. METHODS: One hundred adolescent and young adult trauma victims in an urban trauma center were interviewed, using the Adolescent Risk-Taking Instrument, the Brief Anger/Aggression Questionnaire, and the Trauma Risk Factor Interview Schedule. Bivariate correlation, multiple regression, and discriminant function analysis were used to examine the data. RESULTS: Of the sample, 89% experienced trauma related to interpersonal violence, including firearm injuries, stab wounds, and blunt trauma. Male gender, unemployment, past arrest, lower levels of spirituality, and higher levels of anger/aggression and thrill-seeking accounted for 25% of the variance in the number of risk-taking behaviors. Factors such as male gender, past arrest, unemployment, having been a crime victim in the past, lower autonomy, use of weapons, fighting, and no psychological counseling distinguished subjects with firearm-related injuries from subjects with other injury sources. Use of alcohol on weekdays, past arrest, and higher education levels were associated with trauma recidivism, explaining 14% of the variance. CONCLUSIONS: Social/environmental and psychological/developmental variables, as well as risk-taking behaviors, are important correlates of trauma and recidivism. These findings suggest the importance of advocacy for social policies conductive to reducing the risks of violence and trauma and risk-reduction interventions as components of posttrauma care.

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