The epidemiology of finding a dead body: Reports from inner-city Baltimore, Maryland us

Carl Latkin, Cui Yang, Britt Ehrhardt, Alicia Hulbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In the US, there are no national statistics on encountering a dead body, which can be viewed as a measure of community health and a stressful life event. Participants for an HIV prevention intervention targeting drug users were recruited in areas of inner-city Baltimore, Maryland. Nine hundred and fifty-one respondents, most with a history of drug use, were asked "have you ever found a dead body?" and 17.0% reported they had. Leading causes of death were: violence (37%), natural causes (22.2%), drug overdose (21.6%), accidental death (3.1%), and suicide (2.5%). In multivariate logistic models, respondents with longer history of drug use and more roles in a drug economy were more likely to be exposed to a dead body. The study results suggest that this population has a high level of experiences with mortality associated with violence and drugs. To obtain a better understanding of community health, future studies should assess not only morbidity and mortality, but also how death and illness is experienced by the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-109
Number of pages4
JournalCommunity Mental Health Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Drug use
  • Mental health
  • Mortality
  • Urban health
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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