Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major Professor

Susan Madison Smith

Committee Members

James Neutens, Gregory Petty, Paula Carney, Mary Gunther

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine if an association exists between housing characteristics and demographic characteristics of Tennessee neighborhoods (census tracts) and the rate of child fatalities (violent, accidental, and natural) in the neighborhoods reporting child fatalities for the years 1996-2003. The child fatalities, for the eight years, reported to each Tennessee Judicial District Child Fatality Review Team required by the Tennessee Department of Health’s Maternal and Child Health Division were selected for use in the study. Data was selected from the Bureau of the Census’ 2000 United States Census to obtain the housing characteristics and demographic characteristics of heads of households by census tract. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Spearman Rho, and Chi-Square Cross-tabulation analyses.

The descriptive profile showed the under one year of age had the most child fatalities for the eight years. The children aged 15 - 18 years old were the second largest group of child fatalities for the years 1996-2003. Children aged one to four years made up the third largest group of fatalities in Tennessee for the years 1996-2003. More male children died than female children in Tennessee from 1996-2003. The top six most frequently reported causes of death were illness or other natural causes, prematurity, vehicular, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and firearm fatalities. In Tennessee, the top two reported manners of death were natural and accidental. The following conclusions were drawn from the findings of the study; the neighborhood housing characteristics of the percent of rental housing and household size was associated with the rate of Tennessee child fatalities classified as violent and accidental deaths; the neighborhood demographic characteristic of Non-white heads of households was associated with the rate of Tennessee violent and natural child fatalities; and the neighborhood housing characteristics of the percent of rental housing, vacancy status, household size, and urban location were associated with the rate of Tennessee child fatalities classified as natural deaths. More research needs to be conducted to determine the nature of the weak associations between the neighborhood housing and demographic characteristics and the rate of child fatalities.

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