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Abstract: Background: Over the last 15 years large changes in both alcohol consumption and the health care system have occurred in Poland. Substantial fluctuations in alcohol-related mortality followed and burden on health services increased, but data on risk of injury from alcohol consumption are relatively scarce

Methods: Estimates for risk of injury from drinking within six hours prior to the event are reported in samples of emergency services patients from Warsaw (n= 508) and Sosnowiec (n= 432), using case-crossover analysis based on usual frequency of drinking

Results: A four-fold risk of injury was found for those reporting drinking prior to injury compared to those not drinking, and this was significantly greater for those positive for alcohol use disorders compared to those negative. Relative risk of injury was marginally greater in Sosnowiec (5.2) compared to Warsaw (3.4) (p= 0.06), and was significantly greater for those under 30. A 17-fold increase in risk for violence-related injury was found, and was significantly greater for females than males. Risk was substantially greater in Sosnowiec compared to Warsaw across all subgroups, but differences were not significant, possibly due to the small numbers of those sustaining injuries from violence in Warsaw.

Discussion: Injury risk related to drinking was expected to be significantly greater in Sosnowiec, due to more traditional drinking styles of infrequent intake of large quantities of spirits, than in Warsaw, but this was only partially borne out by these data. Risk estimates for all injuries were similar to those found in other case-crossover studies in emergency departments. Given the high relative risk estimates for injury related to drinking prior to the event, among both problem and non-problem drinkers, hospital-based emergency services in Poland may be an important site for identification of those who could benefit from a brief intervention or referral for a reduction in alcohol-related injuries.