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Research Summary

Recent Drinking Doubles the Risk of Injury

The established relationship between recent drinking and acute injury may be due to potential confounding factors, such as usual alcohol consumption patterns, risk-taking behavior, and other substance use. To quantify better the effect of acute alcohol use on risk of injury, researchers performed a case-control study of 488 injured cases in an Australian emergency department and 488 matched community controls.

  • In analyses controlling only for demographic factors and activity, location, and companions at the time of injury, consuming any alcohol in the 6 hours prior to presentation significantly increased the risk of injury (odds ratio, OR, 2.1) compared with consuming no alcohol in the past 24 hours.
  • After controlling for usual alcohol consumption pattern, risk taking (sensation seeking and risk perception), and drug use (use of prescription and over-the-counter medications and/or illicit substances 6–24 hours prior to injury), recent consumption still significantly increased risk (OR 3.7).

Comments:

By adjusting for usual alcohol consumption, risk taking, and other drug use, this study bolsters the clinical observation that alcohol's immediate intoxicating effects, and not these other factors, explain the strong association between drinking and acute injury.

Peter D. Friedmann, MD, MPH

Reference:

Watt K, Purdie DM, Roche AM, et al. Risk of injury from acute alcohol consumption and the influence of confounders. Addiction. 2004;99(10):1262–1273.


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May 1, 2007