Trends in alcohol- and drug-related ED and primary care visits: data from three U

Author(s): Cherpitel CJ, Ye Y


Objective: To evaluate trends in alcohol- and drug-related emergency department (ED) and primary care visits over the previous decade.

Method: A trend analysis was conducted on substance-related health services visit data, based on self-reported drinking or drug use within six hours prior to an injury or illness event, from the 1995, 2000, and 2005 National Alcohol Surveys.

Results: Although an upward trend was observed in alcohol-related ED visits from 1995 to 2005, this increase was not significant. A significant trend was found for drug-related ED visits from .6% in 1995 to 3.7% in 2005 (p < .01). In multiple logistic regression, year of survey (2000 vs. 1995) was positively predictive of drug-related ED visits, controlling for gender, age, ethnicity, and health insurance coverage; however, year of survey (2005 vs. 2000) was not significant.

Conclusion: These data suggest that drug-related ED visits are continuing to increase, although the increase has not been as substantial between 2000 and 2005 as that which was observed between 1995 and 2000 and highlight the opportunity provided by the ED and primary care settings for screening and brief intervention for substance-related problems. These findings also suggest that Healthy People 2010 objectives calling for a reduction in substance-related visits may not be reached.

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