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Keywords:

  • Alcohol;
  • College Drinking;
  • Heavy Drinking;
  • Injury;
  • Sensation Seeking

Background:  Despite the enormous burden of alcohol-related injuries, the direct connection between college drinking and physical injury has not been well understood. The goal of this study was to assess the connection between alcohol consumption levels and college alcohol-related injury risk.

Methods:  A total of 12,900 college students seeking routine care in 5 college health clinics completed a general Health Screening Survey. Of these, 2,090 students exceeded at-risk alcohol use levels and participated in a face-to-face interview to determine eligibility for a brief alcohol intervention trial. The eligibility interview assessed past 28-day alcohol use and alcohol-related injuries in the past 6 months. Risk of alcohol-related injury was compared across daily drinking quantities and frequencies. Logistic regression analysis and the Bayesian Information Criterion were applied to compute the odds of alcohol-related injury based on daily drinking totals after adjusting for age, race, site, body weight, and sensation seeking.

Results:  Male college students in the study were 19% more likely (95% CI: 1.12–1.26) to suffer an alcohol-related injury with each additional day of consuming 8 or more drinks. Injury risks among males increased marginally with each day of consuming 5 to 7 drinks (odds ratio = 1.03, 95% CI: 0.94–1.13). Female participants were 10% more likely (95% CI: 1.04–1.16) to suffer an alcohol-related injury with each additional day of drinking 5 or more drinks. Males (OR = 1.69, 95% CI: 1.14–2.50) and females (OR = 1.81, 95% CI: 1.27–2.57) with higher sensation-seeking scores were more likely to suffer alcohol-related injuries.

Conclusions:  College health clinics may want to focus limited alcohol injury prevention resources on students who frequently engage in extreme drinking, defined in this study as 8+M/5+F drinks per day, and score high on sensation-seeking disposition.