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Barriers to Interventions for Alcohol Problems in Trauma Centers

Cryer, H Gill MD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: September 2005 - Volume 59 - Issue 3 - p S104-S111
doi: 10.1097/01.ta.0000179898.12138.48
Session 3

There is clear evidence that trauma-related serious injuries and fatalities can be directly linked to alcohol misuse. Because alcohol is a factor in many motor vehicle crashes (the leading cause of death for persons up to age 49), the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has set a high priority on decreasing alcohol-related motor vehicle crash injuries. Research now recognizes that most alcohol-impaired drivers who are injured are binge drinkers, not alcoholics. During the past decade, public health and substance treatment researchers have begun to focus on screening and early intervention in clinical settings as a means of reducing alcohol-related injuries. Trauma centers are uniquely positioned to address this problem because of the high percentage of alcohol-impaired patients admitted after motor vehicle crashes. This article discusses the barriers to implementing alcohol screening and intervention programs in trauma centers from the trauma surgeon's perspective.

From the Department of Surgery, Section of Trauma and Critical Care, University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, Los Angeles, California.

Submitted for publication February 25, 2005.

Accepted for publication February 25, 2005.

This article was written for the proceedings from a conference entitled “Alcohol and Other Drug Problems Among Hospitalized Trauma Patients: Controlling Complications, Mortality, and Trauma Recidivism” in Washington, DC, May 28–30, 2003. It does not reflect the official policy or opinions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and does not constitute an endorsement of the individuals or their programs—by CDC, HHS, or the federal government—and none should be inferred.

Address for reprints: H. Gill Cryer, MD, Chief of Trauma and Critical Care, UCLA Medical Center, 10833 Le Conte Ave., Room 72-178, Los Angeles, CA 90095; email:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.