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March 27, 1981

Alcohol Use and Psychiatric Illness in Emergency Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Emergency Medicine and the College of Medicine, Ohio State University, Columbus (Dr Rund and Mr Levin), and the Departments of Psychiatry and Internal Medicine, the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (Dr Summers).

JAMA. 1981;245(12):1240-1241. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310370032018

Screening for alcoholism and associated psychiatric disorders using preselected research criteria demonstrated an overall prevalence of alcoholism of 20% in 200 emergency department patients. The nighttime prevalence of alcoholism was 29%, while the daytime prevalence was 11%. The psychiatric disorders most frequently associated with alcoholism were primary affective disorder (depression) and antisocial personality. The alcoholics had chief complaints relating to trauma in 63% of the cases, vague neuropsychiatric complaints in 23% of the cases, and complaints directly related to alcohol in 8% of the cases. Screening for alcoholism and associated psychiatric illnesses is important in determining an overall treatment strategy for emergency patients.

(JAMA 1981;245:1240-1241)