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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • J. Neale
  • T. Parkman
  • Ed Day
  • C. Drummond

Colleges, School and Institutes


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.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2016


  • Alcohol, stereotyping, emergency departments, frequent attenders, qualitative research