A five times greater risk of dying in the following year.
When a person sustains an injury serious enough to require hospital treatment and is intoxicated or has an alcohol use disorder, their risk of dying in the following year is five, according to a new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. times greater.
“Injuries are one of the most immediate risks of problematic drinking behavior,” explains researcher Sidra Goldman-Mellor, from the University of California Department of Public Health. “In addition to sustaining injuries from car accidents and falls, some people can be injured in fights or even self-harm after drinking. However, we know very little about what happens to people with an alcohol use disorder after they suffer a serious injury. We therefore wanted to investigate the most important outcome of all: the probability of dying”.
To study this, Goldman-Mellor and colleagues examined data on all 10 million emergency room visits by California residents ages 10 and older from 2009 to 2012. Of these patients, 262,222 had an injury. non-fatal and had a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder or were intoxicated at the time of the injury. The majority (76.9%) of these injuries were coded as unintentional, with an additional 13.2% due to assault, 7.9% to self-harm, and 2.1% due to undetermined intent.
Within 12 months of the hospital visit, 13,175 of these patients died – more than 5% – for a total mortality rate of nearly 5,205 per 100,000. The researchers determined that this was more than five times the rate for the rest of the Californian population, for the same age, sex, race and ethnicity, all of which are strong determinants of mortality risk.
Goldman-Mellor says she and her colleagues were prompted to study this topic by evidence that alcohol use, including problem alcohol, has been on the rise in recent years, especially during the pandemic. The researcher says she was surprised by the results obtained.
“Injuries associated with alcohol use disorders are a public health problem in their own right, but we now know they are also associated with a substantially increased risk of death,” Goldman-Mellor says. “Most people struggling with alcohol abuse don’t get the help they need.”
The research team was unable to examine what happened to the patients after they were discharged, but suspect that many were already quite ill when they arrived at the hospital, and that patients’ health declined after that.
- Mortality risk following non-fatal injuries with alcohol use disorder involvement: A one-year follow-up of emergency department patients using linked administrative data (jsad.com)