Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Injury. 2013 Jan;44(1):110-7. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2012.01.008. Epub 2012 Feb 9.

Screening for harmful alcohol use in Australian trauma settings.

Author information

  • 1Statewide Trauma Service of Western Australia, Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia, Australia. allyson.browne@uwa.edu.au



High rates of trauma recidivism associated with alcohol use indicate the need to screen for alcohol consumption and related harm. Routine collection of prevalence data relating to alcohol use in Australian trauma settings is not undertaken currently, and diverse screening approaches are used across different settings. This study sought to examine the feasibility of routine screening for alcohol related injury and harmful alcohol use, and determine the prevalence of alcohol related injury and risky alcohol consumption amongst trauma patients in Western Australia.


A step-down model of screening for alcohol-related injury and harmful alcohol consumption was developed and trialled. Over a four month period at a statewide trauma service, 729 non-head injured trauma patients were screened using a two-item measure in emergency and acute surgical settings, and 538 patients who screened positive were subsequently administered a standardised self report measure of alcohol consumption.


There was a 49% compliance rate with the Emergency Department brief screening protocol for alcohol related injury. Of those screened, 77% were identified by clinical staff as potentially having had an alcohol related injury or be engaging in risky drinking regularly. Sixty per cent of the screened patients who subsequently completed a standardised self report measure were identified as drinking at harmful levels (41% hazardous; 7% harmful; 12% dependent). Of these, 15% and 24% met the DSM-IV-TR criteria for alcohol abuse and dependence respectively. Approximately 30% of patients diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder were not identified by staff as having an alcohol-related injury or problem. Higher alcohol consumption was significantly associated with greater risk of depression and PTSD.


Preliminary findings suggest a high prevalence of alcohol-related injury, and harmful alcohol consumption. These findings point to an urgent need to develop reliable and economical screening protocols for harmful alcohol use across Australian trauma settings and the adoption of strategies to ensure their compliance, to enable accurate identification of those most likely to benefit from interventions to reduce alcohol related harm.

Crown Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk