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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Assessment of Alcohol Withdrawal in Native American Patients Utilizing the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol Revised Scale


The Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol Revised (CIWA-Ar) is a commonly used scale for assessing the severity of alcohol withdrawal syndrome in the acute setting. Despite validation of this scale in the general population, the effect of ethnicity on CIWA-Ar scoring does not appear in the literature. The purpose of our study was to investigate the validity of the CIWA-Ar scale among Native American patients evaluated for acute alcohol detoxification.

 A case series of all patients seen for alcohol withdrawal at an Acute Drug and Alcohol Detoxification facility was conducted from June 1, 2011, until April 1, 2012. The CIWA-Ar scores were recorded by trained nursing staff on presentation to Triage Department and every 2 hours thereafter. At our institution, a score of 10 or greater indicates the need for inpatient hospital admission and treatment. Ethnicity was self-reported. Age, sex, blood alcohol concentration, blood pressure, and pulse were recorded on presentation and vital signs repeated every 2 hours. Patients were excluded from the study if other drug use was noted by history or initial urine drug screen. A multivariate logistic regression model was utilized to identify statistically significant variables associated with admission to the inpatient unit and treatment. The relationship of CIWA-Ar scores and ethnicity was compared using analysis of variance.

A total of 115 whites, 45 Hispanics, and 47 Native Americans were included in the analysis. Native Americans had consistently lower CIWA-Ar scores at 0, 2, 4, and 6 hours than the other 2 ethnic groups (P = 0.002). In addition, Native Americans were admitted to the hospital less often than the other 2 groups for withdrawal (P < 0.001).

The CIWA-Ar scale may underestimate the severity of alcohol withdrawal syndrome in certain ethnic group such as Native Americans. Further prospective studies should be undertaken to determine the validity of the CIWA-Ar scale in assessing alcohol withdrawal across different ethnic populations.

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