Drinking patterns of alcohol intoxicated adolescents in the emergency department: A latent class analysis

Addict Behav. 2015 Nov;50:51-9. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.06.009. Epub 2015 Jun 11.


Introduction: The increasing number of children and adolescents in need of emergency medical treatment following acute alcohol intoxication has been a major public health concern in Europe in recent years. However, little is known about drinking habits and associated risks in this population. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine drinking patterns and associated risks in adolescent emergency department patients following alcohol intoxication. The aim of this study is to establish a classification system for admitted adolescents

Methods: Latent class analysis was used to identify subgroups of adolescents with distinct patterns of habitual drinking as defined by the quantity of consumed alcohol on a typical drinking occasion, frequency of binge drinking and drunkenness, alcohol-related problems, prior alcohol-related hospitalizations and alcohol-related risk behaviors. Subgroup characteristics were examined with regard to sociodemographics, other substance use and psychosocial problems using analysis of variance (ANOVA) and chi-square tests.

Results: A total of 316 adolescents aged 12-17 treated in 6 urban emergency departments in Germany were analyzed. Five classes of drinking patterns were identified: one class representing low-risk drinking (class 1 "low-risk" (61.2%)), two classes representing risky drinking (class 2 "moderate-risk" (5.7%) and class 3 "frequent drunk" (15.8%)), as well as two classes representing high-risk drinking (class 4 "alcohol-related problems" (11.4%) and class 5 "excessive drinking" (5.1%)). Membership of classes 4 and 5 was associated with the most severe psychosocial problems, especially with regard to aggressive-dissocial behaviors. The CRAFFT-d and brief RAPI screening tools allowed identifying the two risky drinking classes and two high-risk drinking classes.

Conclusions: Our findings provide the first in-depth analysis of habitual drinking in this study population and may help practitioners to better tailor interventions to patients' needs by using the identified classes as a form of classification system for admitted adolescents.

Keywords: Adolescent; Alcohol intoxication; Drinking pattern; Emergency department; Latent class analysis; Risk factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data