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J Stud Alcohol. 2006 Jan;67(1):14-21.

Acute alcohol consumption and mechanism of injury.

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  • 1The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.



The purpose of this study was to determine whether injury mechanism among injured patients is differentially distributed as a function of acute alcohol consumption (quantity, type, and drinking setting).


A cross-sectional study was conducted between October 2000 and October 2001 in the Gold Coast Hospital Emergency Department, Queensland, Australia. Data were collected quarterly over a 12-month period. Every injured patient who presented to the emergency department during the study period for treatment of an injury sustained less than 24 hours prior to presentation was approached for interview. The final sample comprised 593 injured patients (males=377). Three measures of alcohol consumption in the 6 hours prior to injury were obtained from self-report: quantity, beverage type, and drinking setting. The main outcome measure was mechanism of injury, which was categorized into six groups: road traffic crash (RTC), being hit by or against something, fall, cut/piercing, overdose/poisoning, and miscellaneous. Injury intent was also measured (intentional vs. unintentional).


After controlling for relevant confounding variables, neither quantity nor type of alcohol was significantly associated with injury mechanism. However, drinking setting (i.e., licensed premise) was significantly associated with increased odds of sustaining an intentional versus unintentional injury (odds ratio [OR] = 2.79, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.4-5.6); injury through being hit by/against something versus other injury types (OR = 2.59, 95% CI = 1.4-4.9); and reduced odds of sustaining an injury through RTC versus non-RTC (OR = 0.02, 95% CI = 0.004-0.9), compared with not drinking alcohol prior to injury.


No previous analytical studies have examined the relationship between injury mechanism and acute alcohol consumption (quantity, type, and setting) across all types of injury and all injury severities while controlling for potentially important confounders (demographic and situational confounders, risk-taking behavior, substance use, and usual drinking patterns). These data suggest that among injured patients, mechanism of injury is not differentially distributed as a function of quantity or type of acute alcohol consumption but may be differentially distributed as a function of drinking setting (i.e., RTC, intentional injury, being hit). Therefore, prevention strategies that focus primarily on the quantity and type of alcohol consumed should be directed generically across injury mechanisms and not limited to particular cause of injury campaigns.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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