Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Veterans Crisis Line Badge
Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Steel TL, Malte CA, Bradley KA, Lokhandwala S, Hough CL, Hawkins EJ. Prevalence and Variation of Clinically Recognized Inpatient Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome in the Veterans Health Administration. Journal of addiction medicine. 2019 Oct 11.
PubMed logo Search for Abstract from PubMed
(This link leaves the website of VA HSR&D.)


Abstract: OBJECTIVES: No prior study has evaluated the prevalence or variability of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) in general hospitals in the United States. METHODS: This retrospective study used secondary data from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to estimate the documented prevalence of clinically recognized AWS among patients engaged in VHA care who were hospitalized during fiscal year 2013. We describe variation in documented inpatient AWS by geographic region, hospital, admitting specialty, and inpatient diagnoses using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification diagnosis and/or procedure codes recorded at hospital admission, transfer, or discharge. RESULTS: Among 469,082 eligible hospitalizations, the national prevalence of documented inpatient AWS was 5.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] 5.2%-6.4%), but there was marked variation by geographic region (4.3%-11.2%), hospital (1.4%-16.1%), admitting specialty (0.7%-19.0%), and comorbid diagnoses (1.3%-38.3%). AWS affected a high proportion of psychiatric admissions (19.0%, 95% CI 17.5%-20.4%) versus Medical (4.4%, 95% CI 4.0%-4.8%) or surgical (0.7%, 95% CI 0.6%-0.8%); though by volume, medical admissions represented the majority of hospitalizations complicated by AWS (n = 13,478 medical versus n = 12,305 psychiatric and n = 595 surgical). Clinically recognized AWS was also common during hospitalizations involving other alcohol-related disorders (38.3%, 95% CI 35.8%-40.8%), other substance use conditions (19.3%, 95% CI 17.7%-20.9%), attempted suicide (15.3%, 95% CI 13.0%-17.6%), and liver injury (13.9%, 95% CI 12.6%-15.1%). CONCLUSIONS: AWS was commonly recognized and documented during VHA hospitalizations in 2013, but varied considerably across inpatient settings. This clinical variation may, in part, reflect differences in quality of care and warrants further, more rigorous investigation.

Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team.

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.