Ethanol Values During College Football Season: University Policy Change and Emergency Department Blood Ethanol Values From 2006 Through 2014

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Background: Tailgating is popular at many college football games. However, it is known to contribute to binge drinking and alcohol intoxication, which are common public health challenges.

Objective: To use laboratory data to measure changes in plasma ethanol levels observed in a large state university emergency department after a series of reforms were enacted to reduce binge drinking.

Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review on all serum ethanol levels measured at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on weekends from 2006 through 2014. Data were analyzed by multivariable logistic regression after controlling for significant covariates.

Results: A total of 5437 patients had ethanol levels recorded on weekends. After the implementation of policy changes, there was a significant reduction in the adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of ethanol values reported in the severe intoxication range (≥240 mg/dL; AOR = 0.77; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.64-0.92).

Conclusion: The policy changes implemented in 2009 in an attempt to reduce binge drinking are associated with a decreased likelihood of an ethanol result being in the severe intoxication range.

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