Open Access Research article

Alcohol and risk of admission to hospital for unintentional cutting or piercing injuries at home: a population-based case-crossover study

Simon Thornley1, Bridget Kool1*, Elizabeth Robinson1, Roger Marshall1, Gordon S Smith2 and Shanthi Ameratunga1

Author Affiliations

1 Section of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand

2 Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, National Study Center for Trauma & EMS, Baltimore, MD, USA

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:852  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-852

Published: 9 November 2011



Cutting and piercing injuries are among the leading causes of unintentional injury morbidity in developed countries. In New Zealand, cutting and piercing are second only to falls as the most frequent cause of unintentional home injuries resulting in admissions to hospital among people aged 20 to 64 years. Alcohol intake is known to be associated with many other types of injury. We used a case-crossover study to investigate the role of acute alcohol use (i.e., drinking during the previous 6 h) in unintentional cutting or piercing injuries at home.


A population-based case-crossover study was conducted. We identified all people aged 20 to 64 years, resident in one of three regions of the country (Greater Auckland, Waikato and Otago), who were admitted to public hospital within 48 h of an unintentional non-occupational cutting or piercing injury sustained at home (theirs or another's) from August 2008 to December 2009. The main exposure of interest was use of alcohol in the 6-hour period before the injury occurred and the corresponding time intervals 24 h before, and 1 week before, the injury. Other information was collected on known and potential confounders. Information was obtained during face-to-face interviews with cases, and through review of their medical charts.


Of the 356 participants, 71% were male, and a third sustained injuries from contact with glass. After adjustment for other paired exposures, the odds ratio for injury after consuming 1 to 3 standard drinks of alcohol during the 6-hour period before the injury (compared to the day before), compared to none, was 1.77 (95% confidence interval 0.84 to 3.74), and for four or more drinks was 8.68 (95% confidence interval 3.11 to 24.3). Smokers had higher alcohol-related risks than non-smokers.


Alcohol consumption increases the odds of unintentional cutting or piercing injury occurring at home and this risk increases with higher levels of drinking.

Alcohol drinking; Cross-over studies; Cutting and piercing; Wounds and injuries