Prevalence of alcohol among non-fatally injured road accident casualties in two level III trauma centres in Nothern Ghana.

Research paper by James J Damsere-Derry, Gavan G Palk, Mark M King

Indexed on: 23 Aug '17Published on: 23 Aug '17Published in: Traffic injury prevention


Background Alcohol use is pervasive among motorists on the roadside in Ghana, however we do not know the extent this behaviour is implicated in road accidents in this country. Objectives The main objective of this research was to establish the prevalence of alcohol in the blood of non-fatally injured casualties in the emergency departments (EDs) in Northern Ghana. Method Participants were injured road traffic crash victims namely pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers seeking treatment at the EDs. The study sites were two level III trauma centres located in Wa and Bolgatanga. Participants were screened for alcohol followed by breath tests for positive participants using breathalysers. Results Two hundred and sixty-two (262) accident victims visited the EDs 58% of which occurred at Wa. Among the victims, 41% were hospitalised and 57% experienced slight injuries. The vast majority (76%) of the casualties were motorcyclists, 13% were pedestrians, 8% were cyclists and 2% were drivers. Subsequently, the casualties who had detectable alcohol in their blood were predominantly vulnerable road users. In all, thirty-four percent (34%) of participants had detectable BACs and the mean BAC for all casualties who tested positive and could give definitive BACs was 0.2265 (226 mg/dl). The prevalence of alcohol use was 53% among cyclists, 34% among motorcyclists, 21% among pedestrians and 17% among drivers. Male casualties were more likely to test positive for alcohol than females. Also, the prevalence of alcohol was significantly higher among injured casualties in Bolgatanga compared with Wa. Conclusion There was a high prevalence of alcohol use among non-fatally injured casualties in Northern Ghana and injury severity increased with BAC. AUDIT screening in the hospital, alcohol consumption guideline, road safety education with an emphasis on minimizing or eliminating alcohol consumption, and enhanced enforcement of the BAC limit among motorists are recommended.