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Journal Article


Cherpitel CJ, Ye Y. Alcohol Clin. Exp. Res. 2015; 39(9): 1698-1704.


Alcohol Research Group, Emeryville, California.


(Copyright © 2015, John Wiley and Sons)






BACKGROUND: While alcohol-related problems have been found to be overrepresented in clinical samples of patients, less is known about health services utilization in the general population.

METHODS: To explore the association of risky drinking and alcohol use disorders (AUD) with inpatient and outpatient services utilization, data are analyzed from a merged sample of 13,165 respondents in the 2005 and 2010 U.S. National Alcohol Surveys. Propensity score weighting was used to minimize potential bias associated with the heterogeneity in individual-level characteristics across respondents which might influence these relationships.

RESULTS: No significant differences were found between risky and nonrisky drinkers on any of the utilization variables in the last year, with 11% reporting an emergency room (ER) visit, a third reporting a primary care visit, and 6.2 to 7.6% reporting hospitalization. Those with an AUD were significantly more likely than those without to report an ER visit in the last year (18.2% vs. 11.6%; p = 0.003) as well as a greater number of such visits (p = 0.007), and to report more primary care visits (p = 0.05) and any hospitalization (11.2% vs. 6.7%; p = 0.019).

CONCLUSIONS: The data suggest a significant and potentially costly increase in health services utilization due to AUD. ERs and primary care settings would benefit from devoting increased resources to addressing AUD, which could result in clinical benefits of improvement in overall health status as well as economic benefits in lowering healthcare costs for both patients and society as a whole.

Language: en


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