Trauma center brief interventions for alcohol disorders decrease subsequent driving under the influence arrests

Carol R. Schermer, Theresa B. Moyers, William R. Miller, Lori A. Bloomfield, Larry M. Gentilello, David Spain, Sheldon Brotman, Jeffrey S. Hammond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


Background: A substantial number of trauma center admissions are related to driving under the influence (DUI); however, there has been no prior report of brief intervention (BI) after injury reducing subsequent DUI arrests. The hypothesis of this study was that injured patients receiving BI would have a lower risk of DUI arrest within 3 years of discharge than those receiving standard care (SC). Methods: This prospective, randomized clinical trial randomly allocated patients involved in motor vehicle collisions to receive SC or a BI regarding alcohol use. The primary outcome measure was DUI arrest within 3 years of hospital discharge. DUI arrests were documented by matching demographic information to state traffic safety data. Results: After randomization (N = 126), BI and SC groups were similar in age, prior DUI arrests, and alcohol screening score. BI sessions lasted an average of 30 minutes and were performed by either a social worker or a trauma surgeon. Approximately one in six participants (n = 21, 16.7%) had a DUI arrest within 3 years of hospital discharge. Within 3 years of hospital discharge, 14 of 64 patients (21.9%) in the SC group had an arrest for DUI compared with only 7 of 62 patients (11.3%) who received the BI. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that BI was the strongest protective factor against DUI arrest (odds ratio [OR], 0.32; 95% confidence interval ≤CI], 0.11-0.96). Prior number of DUIs (OR, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.03-2.01) and age (OR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.88-0.99) were also associated with DUI arrest posthospitalization, but alcohol screening score (OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.99-1.13) was not. The absolute risk reduction implies that only nine patients would need to receive a BI to prevent one DUI arrest. Conclusion: Patients who receive BI during a trauma center admission are less likely to be arrested for DUI within 3 years of discharge. BI represents a viable intervention to reduce DUI after trauma center admission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-34
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Alcohol use
  • Brief interventions
  • DUI arrest
  • DUI recidivism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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