Online Program

Citywide Homicide Review to Track Age Trends in Violence

Monday, November 2, 2015

Richard Garland, MSW, Center for Health Equity, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
Teagen O'Malley, MPH, CPH, Center for Health Equity, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh
Gina Brooks, BA, Center for Health Equity, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Art Terry, Terry Consulting Services, Pittsburgh, PA
Roland Slade Sr., MSW, Zakar Empowerment, LLC, Pittsburgh, PA
Leigh Frederick, MSN, Presbyterian Hospital, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Patricia I. Docum├ęt, MD, DrPH, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Lora Ann Bray, BS, CCRP, Center for Health Equity, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Steve M. Albert, PhD, Department of Behavioral & Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Background/Purpose. Homicide reviews apply principles of child death review to violent deaths. Stakeholders (police, probation, human services, medical examiner, victims organizations, trauma services) review each case to flesh out details that may be missing from police or medical examiner records. This greater detail can be used to track trends in violent deaths. 

Methods. The group reviewed each homicide in Pittsburgh, PA over 3 years (2012-2014) and identified cases involving gang/peer competition.  Ages of victims in this category were compared to the ages of victims whose violent death did not involve retaliation, disrespect, or neighborhood conflict. Mean age and 95% confidence intervals (using bootstrap procedures) were computed for each group in each year.

Results/Outcomes. There were 42 homicides in 2012, 47 in 2013, and 69 in 2014.  Nearly 90% involved firearms and African-American victims. Peer/gang victims overall were younger (26.9 [24.7-29.3] vs. 34.2 [30.8-37.9], p < .001).  The ages of peer/gang victims increased over the 3 years (23.2, 28.2, 29.2), though differences did not achieve significance. Other deaths did not show a consistent trend in age (32.4, 35.9, 34.2). The proportion of deaths involving gang/peer conflict was 33% in 2012, 60% in 2013, and 50% in 2014.

Conclusions.  The increase in homicides in Pittsburgh, PA over 2012-14 was associated with a greater proportion of gang/peer conflicts. These homicide victims are younger, but gang/peer violence may now be increasing to include a wider age range.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Assess value of citywide homicide review model for tracking trends in violence. Evaluate relationship between context of homicide (gang/peer-based vs. other) and age of victims

Keyword(s): Youth Violence, Mortality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I oversee the Pittsburgh homicide review group, arrange for participants to a trend, and supervise staff involved in data retrieval and preparation of reports. I co-direct this effort with Steven M. Albert, PI of the project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.