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Revista de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0034-8910On-line version ISSN 1518-8787


ARAUJO, Edna Maria de et al. Race/skin color differentials in potential years of life lost due to external causes. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2009, vol.43, n.3, pp.405-412.  Epub Apr 03, 2009. ISSN 0034-8910.

OBJECTIVE: Deaths by external causes represent one of the most important challenges for public health and are the second cause of death in Brazil. The aim of this study was to analyze differentials in mortality by external causes according to race/skin color. METHODS: A descriptive study was carried out in Salvador, Northeastern Brazil, using 9,626 cases of deaths by external causes between 1998 and 2003. Data were obtained from the Forensic Medicine Institute and from Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics). The indicator "potential years of life lost" was utilized to identify the existence of differences among age groups, sex groups and race/skin color groups. RESULTS:Deaths by external causes provoked the loss of 339,220 potential years of life, of which 210,000 were due to homicides. Nonwhite individuals died at earlier ages and lost 12.2 times as much potential years of life due to deaths by homicidies than white individuals. Although the nonwhite (black and mixed) population was three times larger than the white population, its number of potential years of life lost was 30 times higher. The population of blacks was 11.4 % smaller than the white population, but its loss of potential years of life was almost three times higher. Even after the adjustment for age, the differences observed in the indicator potential years of life lost/100,000 inhabitants and in the ratios between strata according to race/skin color were maintained. CONCLUSIONS: The results showed differentials in mortality by external causes according to race/skin color in Salvador. The nonwhite population had greater loss of potential years of life, higher average number of years not lived and, on average, they died at an earlier age due to homicides, traffic accidents an all other external causes.

Keywords : External Causes; Mortality; Potential Years of Life Lost; Ethnic Group and Health; Health Inequalities; Social Inequity; Brazil; Race [Skin color].

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