A clustering of injury behaviors.

Carol R. Schermer, Ellen C. Omi, Hieu Ton-That, Karen Grimley, Pamela Van Auken, John Santaniello, Thomas J. Esposito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Alcohol is a well-known risk factor for injury. A number of other behaviors are also associated with injury risk. We hypothesized that risky drinking would be associated with other high risk behaviors, thereby delineating a need for behavioral interventions in addition to alcohol. METHODS: A consecutive sample of trauma patients was interviewed for drinking and risky behaviors including seat belt use, helmet use, and driving behaviors. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test was used to screen for risky drinking and risky behavior questions were taken from validated questionnaires. Behaviors were ranked on a Likert scale ranging from a low to a high likelihood of the behavior or assessed the frequency of behavior in the past 30 days. An Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test score of 8 or more was considered risky drinking for adults age 21 to 64, and 4 or more for ages 16 to 20 and over 65. Risky and nonrisky drinkers were compared on behavior risk items. A p value of less than 0.05 was considered significant. RESULTS: One hundred sixty patients (mean age, 36.8 years, 72% men,) were interviewed. Risky drinkers were more likely to drive after consuming alcohol, ride with drinking drivers, tailgate, weave in and out of traffic, and make angry gestures at other drivers (all p < 0.05). Risky drinkers were less likely to wear motorcycle helmets. However, risky drinkers were no more or less likely to talk on the cell phone while driving, to use seatbelts, or use turn signals. Although number of lifetime vehicle crashes were similar, risky drinkers were more likely to have been the party at fault for the crash (mean 1.09 vs. 0.64, p = 0.03). CONCLUSIONS: Factors other than alcohol increase injury risk in problem drinkers. Injury prevention programs performing alcohol interventions should consider including behavioral interventions along with alcohol reduction strategies. New screening and intervention programs should be developed for injury behaviors that increase risk but are not alcohol related.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1000-1004
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of trauma
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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