Objective: To estimate injury mortality rates in a rural population in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and to identify socio-demographic risk factors associated with adult injury-related deaths.<br/><br/>Methods: The study used population-based mortality data collected by a demographic surveillance system on all resident and non-resident members of 11 000 households. Deaths and person-years of observation (pyo) were aggregated for individuals between 01 January 2000 and 31 December 2007. Cause of death was determined by verbal autopsy, coded using ICD-10 and further categorised using global burden of disease categories. Socio-demographic risk factors associated with injuries were examined using regression analyses.<br/><br/>Results: We analysed data on 133 483 individuals with 717 584.6 person-years of observation (pyo) and 11 467 deaths. Of deaths, 8.9% were because of injury-related causes; 11% occurred in children <15 years old. Homicide, road traffic injuries and suicide were the major causes. The estimated crude injury mortality rate was 142.4 (134.0, 151.4)/100 000 pyo; 116.9 (108.1, 126.5)/100 000 pyo among residents and 216.8 (196.5, 239.2)/100 000 pyo among non-residents. In multivariable analyses, the differences between residents and non-residents remained but were no longer significant for women. In men and women, full-time employment was significantly associated with lower mortality [adjusted rate ratios 0.6 (0.4, 0.9); 0.4 (0.2, 0.9)]; in men, higher asset ownership was independently associated with increased mortality [adjusted rate ratio 1.5 (1.1, 1.9)].<br/><br/>Conclusions: Reducing the high levels of injury-related mortality in South Africa requires intersectoral primary prevention efforts that redress the root causes of violent and accidental deaths: social inequality, poverty and alcohol abuse.<br/><br/
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