After a week of late nights crunching and plotting data for the hours in question, Brownstein and Reis, also affiliated with Harvard Medical School, were able to show an inverse relationship between Red Sox viewership and emergency-department visits that held up under rigorous statistical tests.
"The public health finding here is people use discretion in deciding when show up in the emergency department," says senior study author Dr. Kenneth Mandl, an attending physician in Children's Department of Emergency Medicine and a faculty member of the Children's Hospital Informatics Program at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.
A previous study documented an increase in driving fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday. However, Brownstein and Reis looked at emergency department results only during the hours of the games themselves, not afterward when drunken fans might be driving. It also examined all categories of visits, including routine health visits.
The hospitals analyzed were Children's, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital Cambridge Hospital, Somerville Hospital, and Whidden Memorial Hospital (serving the communities of Everett, Revere, Chelsea, Winthrop, and Malden).