Background: Globally, alcohol is responsible for 3.3 million deaths annually and contributes to 5.9% of the overall global burden of disease. In Sub-Saharan Africa, alcohol is the leading avoidable risk factor accounting for a substantial portion of death and disability. This project aimed to determine the proportion of injuries related to alcohol and the increased risk of injury due to alcohol among injury patients seeking care at the emergency department (ED) of Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi, Tanzania.
Methods: A representative cross-sectional sample of adult patients presenting to the KCMC ED with acute injury were enrolled in this study with a nested case-crossover design. Patient demographics, injury characteristics, and severity as well as alcohol use behaviors were collected. Alcohol breathalyzers were administered to the enrolled patients. Data on activities and alcohol use were collected for the time period 6 h prior to injury and two control periods: 24-30 h prior to injury and 1 week prior to injury.
Results: During 47 weeks of data collection, 24,070 patients were screened, of which 2164 suffered injuries, and 516 met the inclusion and exclusion criteria, consented to participate, and had complete data. Of the study participants, 76% were male, and 30% tested positive for alcohol on arrival to the ED. Alcohol use was associated with being male and being employed. Alcohol use was associated with an increased risk of injury (OR 5.71; 95% CI 3.84-8.50), and specifically road traffic injuries were associated with the highest odds of injury with alcohol use (OR 6.53, 95% CI 3.98-10.71). For all injuries and road traffic injuries specifically, we found an increase in the odds of injury with an incremental increase in the dose of alcohol.
Conclusions: At KCMC in Moshi, Tanzania, 3 of 10 injury patients tested positive for alcohol on presentation for care. Similarly, alcohol use conveys an increased risk for injury in this setting. Evidence-based prevention strategies for alcohol-related injuries need to be implemented to reduce alcohol misuse and alcohol-related injuries.
Keywords: Alcohol use; Injury; Tanzania.