Comparison of objective screening and self-report for alcohol and drug use in traumatically injured patients

Lauren M. Sakai, Thomas J. Esposito, Hieu H. Ton-That, Ellen C. Omi, Elizabeth J. Kovacs, Carol R. Schermer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Alcohol and drug use is prevalent in trauma patients. Concerns over the validity of self-reporting drug use could make nonlaboratory screening problematic. This study sought to validate patient self-report of substance use against objective screening to determine the reliability of self-report in trauma patients. Patients admitted to either the Trauma or Burn services who were at least age 18 were screened for alcohol and drug use with validated screening tools. Exclusion criteria were altered mental status, non English speaking, inability to answer questions for other reasons, under police custody, or admission for <24 hours. Results from admission blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and urine drug screen (UDS) were also collected and compared to self-reported use to determine its reliability. Alcohol use was queried in 128 patients, 101 of whom had a BAC drawn. Of those 101, 34 (33.7%) had a BAC 0 mg%. Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test creening revealed 13 (12.9%) patients who were self-reported non drinkers, none of which had a BAC > 0 mg%. Drug use was queried in 133 patients, 93 of whom had a UDS. A positive was found in 26 (28.0%) of the patients, only 12 (46.2%) of whom reported drug use in the past year. Although substance use in trauma patients is prevalent, self-report screening techniques for drugs may be inadequate at determining those patients whom could benefit from brief interventions while in the hospital. Further investigation is needed to determine the discrepancy between alcohol and drug use screening in trauma patients and more acceptable means of drug use discussion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-442
Number of pages10
JournalAlcoholism Treatment Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • self-reporting
  • substance screening
  • substance use
  • Trauma patients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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