While some morbidities associated with the excessive use of alcohol are related to the total amount of alcohol consumed - cirrhosis being an example - other pathologies, such as trauma and those of psycho-social origin, are mainly related to the frequency of acute alcoholic intoxication rather than to the total amount consumed. The balance between these two types of alcohol-associated morbidities can provide an indication of the relative frequency of intoxication, and thus of the pattern of alcohol abuse in a population. Since trauma is highly associated with acute alcoholic intoxication, the prevalence of bone fractures was determined in cirrhotics in nine countries. The prevalence of rib and vertebral fractures on routine chest x-rays showed a 17-fold variation in the different countries, from 2% and 6% in Spain and Italy to 30% and 34% in Canada and the USA, suggesting marked differences in the pattern of alcohol abuse to intoxication. Conversely, the prevalence of cirrhosis is twice as high in Spain and Italy than in Canada and the USA. A strong positive correlation between per capita consumption and cirrhosis mortality (r = 0.86; p <0.01) exists among the nine countries studied, while the correlation between per capita alcohol consumption and the prevalence of trauma is not statistically significant (r = -0.40). Supporting a strong association between trauma and alcoholic intoxication, the prevalence of trauma was found to be highly correlated: r = 0.88, p <0.002, with the degree of concern for the psycho-social consequences of alcohol abuse in the different countries. Data indicate that trauma can be used as an objective indicator to assess the pattern of alcohol abuse in a population.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research|
|State||Published - 1991|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)