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Socio-demographic characteristics and stereotyping of people who frequently attend accident and emergency departments for alcohol-related reasons: Qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Early online date24 Jun 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jun 2016

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Abstract

Aims: To provide new insights into the socio-demographic characteristics of people who frequently attend Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments for alcohol-related reasons and to explore the findings with reference to stereotyping and prejudice. Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews with 30 individuals (18 males; 12 females; aged 20–68 years) recruited from six A&E departments across London, United Kingdom. Participants had all attended A&E ≥10 times within the last year or ≥5 times in the last three months for an alcohol-related condition. Detailed data relating to participants’ socio-demographic characteristics were systematically coded and analysed. Findings: Participants reported many years of heavy drinking, and high levels of mental and physical ill health, unemployment, dependence on state benefits, housing problems and social isolation. Frequency of A&E attendances varied greatly by participant, patterns of drinking and other substance use were diverse, and the nature and extent of self-reported health and social problems were wide-ranging. Conclusions: Findings suggest that people who regularly attend A&E for alcohol-related reasons collectively experience multiple and complex needs, but individually have diverse patterns of drinking and other problems. Flexible person-centred systems could help to support this patient population, whilst avoidance of terminology that overstates group traits should help to minimise stigma.

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