Introduction It is received wisdom that males are more likely to be bitten by a dog than females. While this is consistent with a greater perceived tendency towards risk-taking behaviour in males, previous studies investigating the gender-dog bite relationship have been limited either by a lack of or an improperly chosen comparison group.
Methods To investigate whether males are at higher risk for dog bites than females, we conducted a hospital-based case-control study in Kingston, Jamaica. Cases were all (120) dog bite victims (56 males, 64 females) seen in the outpatient department of St. Andrews Memorial Hospital in Kingston, from 1 January 2002 to 30 June 2003. Three control groups were selected from among outpatients seen during the same time period: (a) 180 persons presenting for reasons other than dog bites (b) 121 persons presenting with non-dog bite injuries and (c) 126 persons presenting with non-injury conditions. Persons with conditions having known associations with gender were excluded from each control series.
Results ORs comparing males to females were (a) OR 0.8, 95% CI 0.5 to 1.3, (b) OR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4 to 1.0 and (c) OR 1.2, 95% CI 0.7 to 1.9).
Conclusion Our results do not support a hypothesis of a higher dog bite risk for males. We discuss them in the context of the type of injury under consideration, the different research questions implicit in each choice of control group and potential bias, especially as it relates to hospital-based case-control studies.
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