Objective: Alcohol consumption is known to be associated with both risk of accidental injury and with sensation seeking, and sensation seeking has been found to be common among those engaging in such high-risk activities as skiing. However, few studies have examined the joint association of alcohol consumption and sensation seeking on injury.
Method: Alcohol consumption prior to injury and sensation-seeking disposition are analyzed on 389 injured skiers (clinic sample) and 899 randomly selected uninjured skiers (trailside sample) at a Northeastern ski resort. Cases and controls were asked questions pertaining to drinking within 24 hours, amount consumed, time lapsed between the last drink and the event, skiing ability, and sensation seeking.
Results: The clinic sample was more likely to be female, to have less skiing experience, to score lower on sensation seeking and to have been drinking within 24 hours compared to the trailside sample. However, they were less likely to have had six or more drinks within 24 hours and were more likely to report a greater time lapse between the last drink and injury or interview. A larger proportion of those who reported drinking in both samples scored high on sensation seeking compared to those who reported not drinking. Logistic regression analysis found the following variables predictive of ski injury: female, low on sensation seeking, amount of alcohol consumed prior to the event, a longer time lapsed between drinking and the event, time of day (later) and day of the week (weekend).
Conclusions: The data suggest that, while drinking within 24 hours is positively associated with sensation seeking, drinking and not sensation seeking is positively predictive of injury. Drinking at least 12 hours prior to skiing, not drinking in close proximity to skiing, may increase risk for accidental injury, possibly due to a hangover or residual alcohol effect in which fatigue may play a part.