Psychoactive substance use disorders among seriously injured trauma center patients

JAMA. 1997 Jun 11;277(22):1769-74.


Objective: To assess the prevalence of psychoactive substance use disorders (PSUDs) among a large, unselected group of seriously injured trauma center patients, using a standardized diagnostic interview and criteria.

Design: Prevalence study.

Setting: A level I regional trauma center.

Patients: Trauma center patients fulfilling the following criteria were eligible subjects: aged 18 years or older, admission from injury scene, length of stay of 2 days or longer, and intact cognition.

Outcome measures: The PSUDs were diagnosed using the Structured Clinical Interview (SCID) for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Revised Third Edition (DSM-III-R) and were categorized as abuse or dependence and past or current (within past 6 months). The SCID results were analyzed with respect to demographic factors, injury type, and blood alcohol concentration and urine toxicology results, using chi2 and logistic regression techniques.

Results: Of the 1220 patients approached for study, 1118 (91.6%) consented. More than half (54.2%) had a diagnosis of a PSUD in their lifetime. Approximately 90% of alcohol and other drug use diagnoses were for dependence and more than 62% were current. Overall, 24.1% of patients were currently alcohol dependent (men, 27.7%; women, 14.7%; P<.001), and 17.7% were currently dependent on other drugs (men, 20.2%; women, 11.2%; P<.001). Current alcohol dependence rates were not associated with race; rates of dependence on other drugs were higher among nonwhites and victims classified with intentional injuries. While 54.3% of blood alcohol-positive patients were currently alcohol dependent and 38.7% of patients with positive urine screening test results for drugs other than alcohol and nicotine were currently drug dependent, 11.7% of blood alcohol-negative and 3.9% of drug-negative patients, respectively, had current diagnoses of dependence on psychoactive substances.

Conclusions: A high percentage of seriously injured trauma center patients are at risk of having current PSUDs. Patients with positive toxicology screening test results and/or positive screening questionnaire responses should be referred for formal evaluation and treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Baltimore
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Psychotropic Drugs*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Trauma Centers
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*


  • Psychotropic Drugs