A pilot survey was undertaken of injury presentations to a public hospital emergency department to determine patterns of alcohol use in this population. Of the 402 injury presentations in the study period, a total of 236 injury cases were interviewed, of whom 45% (n = 107) and 29% (n = 69) had consumed alcohol 24 and 6 hours prior to injury. Mean age for all injury presentations was 35.1 years, and 32.6 years for alcohol injury cases. For both injury groups, males were significantly younger than females. Recent alcohol ingestion was three times more common among male than female injury presentations, but with females drinking at significantly lower levels. Of males who had consumed alcohol 6 hours prior to injury, nearly 70% were drinking at NHMRC harmful levels and 61% had drunk more than eight standard drinks. Overall, alcohol-involved injury cases commonly occurred among low-income, single males around 30 years of age who were regular heavy drinkers who were drinking heavily in licensed premises prior to their injury, and who sustained injury through intentional harm. In addition, one in five of the alcohol-involved injury cases were aged 15-18 years, i.e. below the legal age of purchase. The high proportion of hazardous and harmful drinkers among those who had consumed alcohol within the last 6 hours, and the injury sample overall, highlights the need for further research to explore the relationship between the occurrence of injury and the drinking patterns and environments associated with injury. Further research is also required to assess the efficacy of early and brief interventions for alcohol and drug use within the emergency ward setting. This information would enable appropriate public health interventions to be initiated.
- Alcohol use
- Emergency department