College News

Nuig student investigates link between alcohol and falls in university students

A final year Occupational Therapy student in NUI Galway is conducting research into the relationship between alcohol-induced falls on nights out and the occupational dysfunction of Irish university students.
Sarah Rath has invited students in NUI Galway who may have experienced a fall or a fall-related injury on a night out to take part in her cross-sectional study. This is the first study of its kind and to date there has been a positive response of 114 people to the online survey.
“I was very happy with the response. I thought it would be slower but it seems that this is something a lot of students can relate to and have experienced, unfortunately,” said Sarah.
Sarah explained how the injuries sustained from falls on nights out could have an impact of the day-to-day lives of students. She came up with the idea with her supervisor, who was aware of someone who had fallen on a night out which had a drastic effect on the person afterwards.
“In occupational therapy or if you’re in any hospital setting, there’s huge emphasis on falls in older adults, preventing falls and the impact of falls. When I was on placement, my supervisor and I were discussing ideas. She had known someone who had had a serious fall whilst drunk in a night club and that really impacted their life in many ways. So I started looking into it after that.”
Participants in the survey have to outline the injuries they sustained from their fall – with one noting that a bruised ego was the worst part of it all! Injuries included concussion, fractured skulls, the loss of feeling in the leg due to nerve damage, and broken bones.
Sarah also asked participants where the falls had taken place. “The night club was the most popular one,” she explained. “Some said they weren’t sure, some people said at home and then others ranged from at an after-party, the bar, getting into taxis, falling off a roof, falling on rocks on a beach, falling into the canal, and on the street.”
People also noted what areas of their lives had been affected in the survey. These included physical appearance, involvement in sport, their studies and employment.
Sarah elaborated on how she explored the correlation of alcohol and falls in students.
“We’re trying to determine the relationship between alcohol and falls, so what we did in the survey was ask how many standard drinks you had on the night of the fall – which I know isn’t 100% accurate and is a flaw in the study, but there is no other way of measuring,” she said. “And then there is the alcohol use disorders identification test, a screening tool developed by the World Health Organisation that helps to identify hazardous drinking behaviours. That’s the last part of the questionnaire.”
Sarah will analyse the data she has collected later this month.
Story courtesy of NUI Galway’s Online Student Newspaper Sin