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Friday, May 11, 2012

Episodic heavy drinking, problem drinking and injuries – Results of the WHO/NIAAA collaborative emergency room study in South Korea

Alcohol is the 5th leading risk factor to the global disease burden and disability and about half of the global alcohol burden was attributable to injuries. Despite a large body of evidence documenting the associations between alcohol and injuries, data from Asian countries including South Korea are sparse. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between episodic heavy past-year drinking, problem drinking symptomatic of alcohol dependence and alcohol-related and intentional injuries.

Data from 1989 injured patients recruited for the WHO/NIAAA Collaborative Study on Alcohol and Injury in South Korea were analyzed with respect to the prevalence rates and associations between injuries and frequency of past-year episodic heavy drinking and problem drinking. In estimating the odds ratios (ORs) and the associated 95% confidence intervals between alcohol intake and injuries multivariable logistic models were employed to adjust for sociodemographic characteristics and selected drinking variables. All analyses were conducted using the SAS 9.2 software.

Findings of this study were consistent with prior studies that the risk of alcohol-related or intentional injury was positively associated with the frequency of episodic heavy drinking. The magnitudes of the associations were larger with frequent consumption of 5+ drinks (OR = 4.0 approximately) than with frequent consumption of 12+ drinks (OR = 3.1).

Strong associations were also noted between RAPS4-assessed alcohol dependence and alcohol-related and intentional injuries. Further, the prevalence of intentional injury and its association with alcohol increased sharply once the acute alcohol intake exceeded 90 ml.

Our results were consistent with prior studies that episodic heavy consumption, acute intoxication and problem drinking are pervasive among emergency room patients.

Results of our study also lent support for administering a single-item screener querying consumption of 5+ drinks at a sitting in the past 12 months as a triage tool in Korea.

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