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Personality type linked to dog bite risk

Friday February 2nd, 2018

People with an anxious personality type face increased risk of being bitten by a dog, according to an analysis published today.

Every year, more than 6,500 people in England require hospital treatment for dog bite injuries, but hospital records do not differentiate between bites and other injuries inflicted by a dog.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool surveyed 694 people in 385 households in a semi-rural town in Cheshire West to establish how many people had been bitten by a dog; whether the bites needed treatment; and whether the victims knew the dog that had bitten them. Participants were also asked if they were dog owners.

They found that one in four respondents had been bitten before, with men almost twice as likely to have been bitten as women, and that people who owned several dogs were more than three times as likely to have been bitten as those who did not own dogs. Just under 55% of respondents said they had been bitten by a dog they did not know.

Although hospital records show the rate of dog bites is 740 per 100,000 of the population, the survey responses indicate a rate of 1873 per 100,000.

The researchers also used the Ten Item Personality Inventory (TIPI) to see if particular personality traits were linked to the risk of being bitten and found that the more emotionally stable and less neurotic an individual was, the lower their risk of being bitten by a dog.

Writing in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, they say that because this is an observational study, no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.

However, they add: “It is essential that previously assumed risk factors are reassessed as this study has revealed that prior beliefs, such as bites typically being from familiar dogs, are contested.”

Westgarth C, Brooke M, Christley R. How many people have been bitten by dogs? A cross sectional survey of prevalence, incidence and factors associated with dog bites in a UK community. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 2 February 2018; doi 10.1136/jech-2017-209330 [abstract]

Tags: A&E | Mental Health | UK News

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