• BAC;
  • injury;
  • meta-analysis;
  • self-reported consumption


Aims  To examine the relationship of acute alcohol consumption with an injury compared to a non-injury event in the emergency room across ERs in five countries.

Design  Meta-analysis was used to evaluate the consistency and magnitude of the association of a positive blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrival in the ER and self-reported consumption within 6 hours prior to the event with admission to the ER for an injury compared to a non-injury, and the extent to which contextual (socio-cultural and organizational) variables explain effect sizes.

Findings  When controlling for age, gender and drinking five or more drinks on an occasion at least monthly, pooled effect size was significant and of a similar magnitude for both BAC and self-reported consumption, with those positive on either measure over half as likely again to be admitted to the ER with an injury compared to a medical problem. Effect sizes were found to be homogeneous across ERs for BAC, but not for self-report. Trauma center status and legal level of intoxication were positively predictive of self-reported consumption effect size on injury.

Conclusions  These data suggest a moderate, but robust association of a positive BAC and self-report with admission to the ER with an injury, and that contextual variables also appear to play a role in the alcohol–injury nexus.