A cross-sectional study of emergency department visits by people who inject drugs

Campbell Aitken, Thomas Kerr, Mark Stoové, Peter Higgs, Paul Dietze, Matthew Hickman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: People who inject drugs (PWID) have worse health than non-injectors and are at heightened risk of incidents that necessitate hospital emergency department (ED) visits.

STUDY OBJECTIVES: To describe ED visits by PWIDs in Melbourne, Australia, and compare reasons with those given in Vancouver, Canada.

METHODS: In 2008-2010, 688 Melbourne PWIDs were interviewed about their ED visits; these data were contrasted with published data about ED visits by PWIDs in Vancouver.

RESULTS: Participants reported 132 ED visits in the month preceding interview--27.3% drug-related, 20.5% trauma-related (principally physical assault), 13.6% for psychiatric problems. Melbourne PWIDs are less likely to attend ED for soft-tissue injuries, and more likely to attend after physical assault than PWIDs in Vancouver.

CONCLUSION: PWID in Melbourne and Vancouver attend EDs for different reasons; information about PWID visits can help EDs cater for them and provide insights for prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-2
Number of pages2
JournalEmergency Medicine Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • British Columbia
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Victoria
  • Wounds and Injuries
  • Young Adult


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