Recurrent traumatic brain injury is predicted by the index injury occurring under the influence of alcohol

Brain Inj. 2008 Sep;22(10):780-5. doi: 10.1080/02699050802339397.


Background: Little is known of the role of alcohol intoxication as a risk factor for recurrent traumatic brain injuries (TBI). This study was a population-based longitudinal study to investigate this problem.

Methods: The record linkage technique was used and data gathered from the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register, hospital records and by a questionnaire of family characteristics regarding the 12 058 subjects forming the Northern Finland Birth Cohort of 1966. Excluded were TBI subjects injured before the age of 12 years.

Results: Of the 236 patients who had survived their first (mainly mild) TBI, 21 had had a recurrent TBI and three of them two recurrent TBIs during the follow-up period (from 1978-2000). An alcohol-related first injury (RR 4.41, 95% CI 1.53-12.70) and urban place of birth (RR 4.39, 95% CI 1.68-11.48) were significant independent predictors of recurrent TBI. A significant positive correlation between the first and recurrent TBIs with respect to alcohol involvement (rs = 0.61, p = 0.003) was observed.

Conclusions: A first TBI related to alcohol drinking is predictive of recurrent TBI, which will often similarly be alcohol-related. The risk of recurrent injury seems to extend over several years after the first TBI. To prevent recurrence, efforts should be made to identify those with an alcohol-related first TBI. A brief intervention focused on drinking habits is needed as an immediate preventive measure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology
  • Brain Injuries / etiology*
  • Brain Injuries / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Medical Record Linkage
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Assessment
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Young Adult