The magnitude of acute and chronic alcohol abuse in trauma patients

Arch Surg. 1993 Aug;128(8):907-12; discussion 912-3. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.1993.01420200081015.


Objective: To assess the incidence of acute alcohol intoxication and the proportion of trauma patients with evidence of chronic alcohol abuse.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Regional level I trauma center.

Participants: Patients aged 18 years and older admitted with blunt or penetrating trauma.

Main outcome measures: Admission blood alcohol concentrations (BACs), the Short Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (SMAST), and biochemical markers for chronic alcohol abuse.

Results: Of the 2657 patients enrolled, 47.0% had a positive BAC and 35.8% were intoxicated (BAC > or = 100 mg/dL) on admission to the emergency department. Intoxicated patients were more likely to be 25 to 34 years old, male, and nonwhite; the highest proportion of intoxicated patients was among victims of stab wounds. Three fourths of acutely intoxicated patients had evidence of chronic alcoholism as indicated by a positive SMAST, and 25% to 35% of acutely intoxicated patients had biochemical evidence of chronic alcohol abuse.

Conclusions: The high prevalence of both acute intoxication and chronic alcoholism in trauma patients indicates the need to diagnose and appropriately treat this pervasive problem in trauma victims.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / blood
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / complications*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / blood
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Wounds and Injuries / blood
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase