To explore the association between drinking patterns, irrespective of whether alcohol was consumed in the event of the injury or not, and different injury variables; and to identify settings and situations in which risky drinkers have an increased likelihood of injury.
The study population consisted of all patients aged 18-70 years registered for an injury according to ICD-10 at a Swedish emergency department during an 18-month period. After informed consent, the injury patients were screened for drinking habits by the AUDIT-C questionnaire. The gender, age and drinking pattern of injury patients were compared with the general population.
A total of 2782 patients aged 18-70 years were registered for an injury during the study period. The number of drop-outs was 631. Drop-outs include those who did not consent to participate, were severely injured, too intoxicated or did not fill out the questionnaire satisfactory. Thus, 77.3% of the target group were included for further analysis (1944 drinkers and 207 abstainers). The patients were categorized into three drinking categories: abstainers, non-risky and risky drinkers. Risky drinkers were defined according to usual weekly consumption of 80g or more of alcohol for women and 110g or more for men and/or heavy episodic drinking (i.e. having six glasses or more one glass=12g alcohol), or both, on one occasion at least once a month, valid for both women and men. To estimate the relationship between drinking patterns and the injury variables (environment, cause of injury, activity and diagnosis), odds ratios (OR) were calculated by logistic regression. Multiple logistic regression was used in order to control for age and sex differences between the various drinking and injury categories.
The proportion of risky drinkers was higher in the study population compared with the general population in the same area. When controlling for age and sex, risky drinkers (OR 6.4(adj) Confidence interval CI 1.9-21.2) and non-risky drinkers (OR .4.5(adj) CI 1.4-14.5) displayed an increased risk for injury compared with abstainers, in amusement locations, parks, by or on lakes or seas, especially while engaged in play, hobby or other leisure activities (risky drinkers: OR 2.8(adj) CI 1.3-5.6; non-risky drinkers: OR 2.4(adj) CI 1.2-4.6). All differences between drinking patterns in external cause of injury disappeared when age and sex were considered. During rest, meals and attending to personal hygiene, the non-risky drinkers had a lower probability of injury compared with abstainers (OR 0.3(adj) CI 0.1-0.8). Non-risky drinkers had a higher probability than abstainers of suffering luxation (dislocation) or distortion (OR 1.6(adj) CI 1.1-2.5). Nine per cent of the study population reported that they believed that their injury was related to intake of alcohol. Half of this group were non-risky drinkers (CI for the 13.7% difference was 9.7-17.6).
Few significant associations between drinking pattern and injury remained when age and sex were controlled for.