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J Stud Alcohol. 1995 Jan;56(1):83-9.

Alcohol and injury in the general population: data from two household samples.

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California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, Alcohol Research Group, Berkeley 94709-2176, USA.



While a large literature exists on the association of alcohol and injury, coming largely from studies carried out in hospital emergency rooms (ERs), it is not known how representative ER patients are of those who are injured and treated elsewhere, or of those who are injured and receive no treatment. This article reports data on alcohol, injury and ER treatment in the general population.


Data were collected in two household probability samples: a national sample (N = 1,144) and a California county sample (N = 3,065).


In the national sample those treated in the ER for an injury were more likely to be younger, black and heavier drinkers, and were more likely to report experiences associated with alcohol dependence compared to those with other injuries, treated or untreated. In the county sample, those treated in the ER were more likely to have been drinking prior to the injury event, to be injured on the street and to report the event to be related to violence compared either to those whose injuries were treated elsewhere or to those who received no treatment for their injuries.


These data support the contention that findings on associations of alcohol and injury obtained from ER studies cannot be generalized to other injuries in the same population or to other populations.

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