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Fraternity/sorority members who get drunk weekly at higher risk of injuries

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Members or pledges of college fraternities and sororities are twice as likely as non-Greek students to get drunk at least weekly and are at significantly higher risk of being injured or injuring someone else according to new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The research suggests that a simple screening question "In a typical week, how many days do you get drunk?" may help identify students at highest risk of injury from drinking.

Greek pledges who reported getting drunk at least weekly had five times the risk of falling from a height and two and a half times the risk of experiencing a burn than non-Greek students who do not get drunk, according to a study involving 10,635 students at 10 North Carolina universities. The students were surveyed in the fall terms of 2003-2005.

"This single question could potentially be used as a screening tool to identify students who are most likely to get hurt as a result of drinking," said lead researcher Mary Claire O'Brien, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine and public health sciences.

She reported the data, from an ongoing, five-year project to develop effective strategies for reducing problem drinking on college campuses, today at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine in San Francisco.

The student survey revealed that 90 percent of Greek members drank alcohol in the past 30 days, compared to 65 percent of other students. Sixty percent of Greek members and pledges reported getting drunk weekly, compared to 32 percent of non-Greeks. More than three out of four (78 percent) Greeks said that getting drunk is "OK," compared to 52 percent of non-Greeks.

The on-line survey asked students about their drinking habits and the consequences. Getting drunk was defined as being unsteady, dizzy or sick to your stomach. The study showed that the single question about drinking is more predictive of risk for i
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Contact: Karen Richardson
krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu
336-716-4453
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
18-May-2006


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