Background: Injury is the leading cause of death for children and has been linked to caregiver drinking. Screening and brief intervention for risky drinking has been successful in adult trauma centers but has not been evaluated in caregivers of pediatric trauma patients. The purpose of this study was to investigate a pilot screening process for risky drinking caregivers, to determine rates of risky alcohol use, and to assess potential relationships between risky drinking and child safety behaviors.

Methods: Caregivers of pediatric trauma patients were screened by trained injury prevention educators. The screening assessed risky drinking, tobacco and illicit drug use, and child safety behaviors. Data were analyzed using descriptive analysis, frequency comparisons, and univariate logistic regression.

Results: Over 7 months, 295 caregivers were screened; 32.5% (n = 96) screened positive for risky alcohol use. For 173 injured children, one caregiver was screened, and for 61 children, two caregivers were screened. In the one-caregiver group, 29% (n = 50) screened positive for risky drinking. For the two-caregiver group, in 18% (n = 11) of the cases, both caregivers screened positive, whereas in 39% (n = 24) only one caregiver screened positive. Males were more likely to screen positive (p < 0.01). Relationships between reported child safety behaviors and risky drinking were of interest, but not statistically significant.

Conclusions: The results of our study demonstrate that a substantial number of caregivers of pediatric trauma patients will self-report risky drinking behaviors, and therefore, an opportunity exists for these families to receive the benefits of screening and brief intervention programs in pediatric trauma care settings.

This project was presented to the Injury Free Coalition for Kids Annual Meeting in December 2008 and published in the Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection and Critical Care.

Contact Information

Karla Lawson, PhD
Program Coordinator
Office: (512) 324-0189