Alcohol use among injured patients aged 12 to 18 years

Acad Emerg Med. 1997 Jan;4(1):40-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1997.tb03641.x.


Objective: To examine the scope of alcohol use among a population of injured adolescents.

Methods: A convenience sample of injured patients aged 12-18 years seen at a pediatric ED was tested for the presence of alcohol. Injured patients seen within 6 hours of their injuries were asked to submit urine samples for testing using reagent strips. Data were collected from the patient, out-of-hospital emergency care personnel, and parents regarding the circumstances of the injury.

Results: Of the 243 injured patients who were tested during an 8-month period, 231 were included in the final analysis. Ninety patients (39%) were alcohol-positive. The mean age of the alcohol-positive group was 16.0 +/- 1.64 years, compared with 15.3 +/- 1.8 years for the alcohol-negative group (p < 0.003). There was no significant difference between the 2 groups based on race, gender, or injury characteristics. A positive urine alcohol test was found for 18 (33%) of motor vehicle crash victims, 9 (38%) of the motor vehicle drivers, 10 (37%) of the patients who attempted suicide, and 49 (44%) of the assault victims.

Conclusions: A substantial percentage of injured adolescent patients were alcohol-positive. The authors recommend the use of alcohol screening when treating injured adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries*