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Journal Article


Cherpitel CJ. Alcohol Clin. Exp. Res. 1996; 20(2): 338-342.


Alcohol Research Group, Western Consortium for Public Health, Berkeley, California 94709, USA.


(Copyright © 1996, John Wiley and Sons)






Although alcohol is thought to be associated with severity of injury, relatively little data are available that compares alcohol's involvement in injury cases treated in the emergency room (ER) with coroner cases of injury fatality, both coming from the same county. Data from a probability sample of casualty patients 18 years and older treated at the University of Mississippi Medical Center ER in Jackson during a 6-month period (n = 275) are compared with data from coroner reports of all fatalities from unnatural causes among those 18 and older in the same county during a 1-year period surrounding the 6 months of data collection in the ER (n = 222). The two samples are compared on demographic characteristics, cause of injury, place of injury, and alcohol use before the event. A significantly larger proportion of the coroner sample was positive for alcohol (57%) and intoxicated (36%), compared with the proportion of those in the ER sample breathalyzed within 6 hr of injury, and reporting no drinking after the event who were positive (15%) and intoxicated (6%). Differences were most pronounced for motor vehicle accidents and fires. Violence-related injuries were more likely in the coroner sample (32%) than in the ER sample (16%), and they were more likely to involve alcohol at levels of intoxication. Those in the coroner sample were also more likely to be alcohol-positive for injuries occurring in all places except the home of another and the workplace. Using logistic regression, gender (male) and site (coroner) were predictive of a positive blood alcohol across all causes of injury combined. Gender (female), being alcohol-positive and site (coroner) were significantly predictive of motor vehicle accidents. Alcohol was not found to be a significant predictor for falls, other accidents, or injuries resulting from violence. Data suggest that alcohol's association with severity of injury varies by cause of injury.


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