If you have ever wondered what type of beer is most strongly associated with an emergency room admission, well, wonder no more.
For a full year, researchers spent their Friday and Saturday nights at the Johns Hopkins hospital emergency department in East Baltimore (separate research has found that about one-third of visits there are alcohol-related). At the start of the study, the researchers would turn up for their shifts at 10 p.m.
"However," researchers recount in a newly published study (noticed by the New York Times Well blog), "due to the time needed for most drinking patients to become sufficiently sober to give informed consent," they ultimately pushed their start time to 4 a.m.
The study, which involved interviews with 105 emergency room patients, found that five alcohol brands were most frequently consumed by the patients: Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light.
Four of those brands were significantly overrepresented in the emergency room population, compared with their share of the national beer market. For example, about 46 percent of the emergency room patients said they had consumed Malt liquor, which comprises only a 2.4 percent share of general beer drinking.
Only Bud Light had a larger share of the national market than it did in the emergency room sample.
The study is by no means meant as a definitive guide to which alcoholic beverages can be most linked to emergency room admissions. The authors acknowledge that they have a small sample size that came from one hospital, which makes it hard to generalize from their results. Instead, researchers were more interested in a proof of concept: that it is indeed possible to collect this information from patients. And, when about one-third of emergency room trips involve alcohol, that kind of data can matter for public health initiatives.
"Our pilot study demonstrated that collecting alcohol type and brand data in hospital emergency room is feasible, if labor-intensive," they conclude. "Physicians were welcoming [and] securing patient agreement to participate in the study improved substantially when the research team wore white lab coats."