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J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2013 Oct;75(4):676-81. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3182a53adf.

Risky drinking among parents of pediatric trauma patients.

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  • 1From the Trauma Services (A.N.B., J.B., K.A.L.), Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas; and School of Social Work (P.Y.-G., K.V.S., M.M.V.), University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas; and Trauma Services (T.M.), Arkansas Children's Hospital, Little Rock, Arkansas.



Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for children in the United States. An association between parental alcohol use and the frequency and severity of childhood injuries has been found; however, research is limited. The purpose of this study was to (1) describe demographics, child safety behaviors, and parental risky behaviors for a pediatric trauma patient population and (2) assess the relationship between positive screen results for risky drinking in parents and demographic and child safety behaviors.


Data were collected from a sample of parents of a child younger than 15 years who was admitted to an urban children's hospital for treatment for an unintentional injury. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, bivariate analyses, and logistic regression.


A total of 926 parents of 693 patients were included in this study. Of the families who completed the survey, 37.1% (n = 257) had at least one parent screening positive for risky alcohol use. When looking at patients who ride bicycles, a little more than half (55.1%) were reported as consistently using a helmet. Results showed that inconsistent helmet use was associated with a higher likelihood of at least one parent screening positive for risky drinking (odds ratio, 1.58; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-2.36; p ≤ 0.05).


Helmet use is a known prevention method of head injuries resulting from bicycle crashes. However, improvements need to be made on how to disseminate this information to parents and how to locate and intervene with the parents who have children that are at an increased risk of injury and injury recidivism. Using screening and brief intervention programs may assist in locating and reducing the potential of recurring visits by at-risk patients such as those in this sample who had at least one parent screening positive for risky drinking.


Prognostic study, level III.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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