OBJECTIVE: To estimate frequency of alcohol consumption among victims of external causes cared for in a hospital. METHODS: Study performed with victims cared for in a university general hospital in the city of Uberlândia (Southeastern Brazil), between February and August 2004. Blood alcohol content was determined from 85 patients in the emergency room. Other 301 patients, hospitalized in the outpatient clinics, were interviewed about possible alcohol consumption prior to trauma. The Cut-down, Annoyed by criticism, Guilty and Eye-opener (CAGE) questionnaire was applied in both groups. Fisher's exact test was employed to compare frequencies. RESULTS: Blood alcohol content was positive among 31.8% of patients tested, who most frequently required hospitalization (70.4% versus 37.9%; p<0.05). Proportionately, positive blood alcohol content was more frequent (p<0.05) among victims of physical aggression (57.1%) than fall victims (18.2%) or those of traffic accidents (29.3%). In outpatient clinics, 29.9% of patients mentioned alcohol consumption, proportionately more frequent (p<0.01) among victims of physical aggression (67.4%) than traffic accident victims (27.8%) or fall victims (19.3%). Among those who had drunk alcohol and were approached in the emergency room or in the outpatient clinics, the following was observed: the majority was male (85.2% and 80.4%), the occurrence of trauma was higher (p<0.05) on weekends (63% and 57.8%) and at night (59.3% and 57.8%), and the CAGE questionnaire was positive among 81.5% and 82.2% of them. CONCLUSIONS: About a third of patients had drunk alcoholic beverages prior to trauma and the majority of them were male. Proportionately, previous alcohol consumption was more frequent among patients who were victims of violence. CAGE results show that most patients, victims of external causes after alcohol consumption, were not occasional drinkers, but probably chronic users or alcoholics.
Alcohol Drinking; Alcoholic Intoxication; Aggression; Accidents, Traffic; Accidental Falls; External Causes