Queensland University of Technology researchers are looking for ways to help people be safer when drinking.
Research manager Jennifer Connolly, from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), said injuries from drinking did not just relate to car crashes and road fatalities but included people being hurt because of the effect alcohol had on their senses and thought processes.
“Being injured after drinking is more common than many realise. Alcohol reduces reaction time and co-ordination, and makes people act more impulsively. They can misjudge their surroundings or act without thinking and this can lead to falls and other accidents,” Ms Connolly said.
“Studies estimate up to 30 per cent of visits to hospital emergency rooms are attributable to the consumption of alcohol, with cuts and falls being the leading causes.
“It takes just one alcoholic drink to double the risk of sustaining an injury bad enough to require a visit to hospital and the risk rises rapidly for every extra drink consumed.
“After three drinks, the risk is four times greater, and after seven drinks it is ten times greater.”
Ms Connolly said age was also a factor, with an estimated 6 per cent of Australians aged between 18 and 24 sustaining their most recent injury after using alcohol or other substances, compared with 2 per cent of people over the age of 25.
She said unpublished data from a study of Brisbane university students by QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland, suggested these rates might be even higher, with 21 per cent of respondents reporting an injury in the previous three months associated with alcohol use.
“Deaths from drinking-related injuries are also more common in younger age groups,” she said.
“People aged 15 to 24 accounted for around half of all alcohol-related pedestrian deaths in Australia, and people aged 18 to 25 accounted for 36 per cent of alcohol-related driver deaths in Victoria.”
But Ms Connolly said studies had shown that being better informed about alcohol and its consequences could reduce the harm associated with drinking in young people.
“The internet has obvious advantages in getting information about alcohol out into the community, and we are interested in studying whether information received on the internet can help people be safer when drinking,” she said.
To investigate this, QUT is seeking volunteers aged over 18 to take part in a study about alcohol information websites.
“We want to know if providing information about alcohol and its effects via the Internet, can engage people to help them make better decisions about drinking and reduce the number of alcohol-related injuries.”
Participants taking part will receive a $50 voucher at the end of the study.
For details or to take part in the study, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 300 164.
Sandra Hutchinson, QUT media officer, 07 3138 0358 (Tues-Wed) or email@example.com (Mon-Fri)
Alita Pashley, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1841