Objective: To describe the prevalence of recent psychoactive substance use and associated factors among road traffic casualties admitted to emergency departments.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out, including adults injured in road traffic crashes admitted to the emergency department (ED) of eight hospitals in Catalonia (Spain), during three cross-sections, each of 4 days duration (2005–2006). Information sources were an interview, an oral fluid specimen and the patient’s clinical record. Dependent variables were presence of alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, opiates or benzodiazepines. Independent variables were socioeconomic characteristics and circumstances of the injuries and admission. Prevalence and exact 95% confidence intervals were estimated for men and women. Bivariate analyses and multivariate binomial regression modelling were carried out to study factors associated with substance use in male drivers and pedestrians.
Results: The prevalence of substance use was higher in men (n = 226) than in women (n = 161) for any substance (34.4% and 16.2%), any illegal substance (19.3% and 7.6%), alcohol (18.5% and 9.2%) and cannabis (17.0% and 3.8%), respectively. In male drivers and pedestrians, alcohol use was associated with being in the 25–30-year age group, being injured at night and the weekend, and arriving at the ED by ambulance; cannabis use was only associated with being in the 18–30-year age group.
Conclusions: A high prevalence of recent psychoactive substance use, especially alcohol, cannabis and cocaine, was observed in all age groups. The results indicate the need to screen for substance use and to give simple advice to casualties at EDs.
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Contributors: KP, ES-R, MTB and AR-M designed the study, wrote the protocol, and performed the literature searches and summaries of previous work. ES-R and KP performed the statistical analysis and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the final manuscript.
Funding: This study was partly funded by the Delegación del Gobierno para el Plan Nacional sobre Drogas (BOE 23 dic 2003, 23560) and the Red de Trastornos Adictivos (FISs G03/05) del Instituto de Salud Carlos III. These entities had no further role in study design, data collection, analysis or interpretation, writing of the report, or the decision to submit the paper for publication.
Competing interests: None.
Ethics approval: Obtained.
Patient consent: Obtained.