Human risk factors in avalanche incidents

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Objective: To describe the population of skiers, climbers, snowshoers and snowboarders at risk of avalanche morbidity or mortality in Western Canada, and to determine the risk factors for experiencing an avalanche incident that might lead to morbidity or mortality. Design: A retrospective, cross-sectional intercept survey. Participants: The participants were people shopping at the Mountain Equipment Coop. Main Outcome Measures: A description of the population at risk by age, sex, exposure, training, sport type, motivation, sensation seeking, attitude and socio-economic status. Mortality and incident rates were calculated by age and sport type. Odds ratios for risk of experiencing an avalanche are estimated using logistic regression for the following covariates: 1. Age. 2. Gender. 3. Sport type. 4. Training. 5. Motivation. 6. Sensations seeking. 7. Attitude. 8. Exposure. A theoretical model for the psychology of risk taking in avalanche terrain was developed. Results: The population at risk has an above average socio-economic status and age distribution similar to the general population. Seventy five percent are male, but the female population appears to be well integrated with the male portion. Age, gender, sport type, some motivations, sensation seeking, and attitude were found to be associated with the risk of experiencing an avalanche incident. Level of training, and socio-economic status, were not found to be a risk factors for avalanche incidents. Conclusions: The risk of experiencing an avalanche incident was found to be independent of the physical risk factors associated with the phenomenon itself. Attitude was found to have the strongest association with risk of experiencing an avalanche incident.
Bibliography: p. 122-129
Sole, A. E. (2008). Human risk factors in avalanche incidents (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/2099