This paper forms a portion of work undertaken by Catherine Delany as part of her Master of Emergency Nursing (Dissertation) degree at Griffith University. Catherine was supervised by Professor Julia Crilly and Dr Jamie Ranse.


Background: Drug and alcohol consumption at sporting mass-gathering events (MGEs) has become part of the spectator culture in some countries. The direct and indirect effects of drug and alcohol intoxication at such MGEs has proven problematic to in-event health services as well as local emergency departments (EDs). With EDs already under significant strain from increasing patient presentations, resulting in access block, it is important to understand the impact of sporting and other MGEs on local health services to better inform future planning and provision of health care delivery.

Aim: The aim of this review was to explore the impact of sporting MGEs on local health services with a particular focus on drug and alcohol related presentations.

Method: A well-established integrative literature review methodology was undertaken. Six electronic databases and the Prehospital and Disaster Medicine (PDM) journal were searched to identify primary articles related to the aim of the review. Articles were included if published in English, from January 2008 through July 2019, and focused on a sporting MGE, mass-gathering health, EDs, as well as drug and alcohol related presentations.

Results: Seven papers met the criteria for inclusion with eight individual sporting MGEs reported. The patient presentation rate (PPR) to in-event health services ranged from 0.18/1,000 at a rugby game to 41.9/1,000 at a recreational bicycle ride. The transport to hospital rate (TTHR) ranged from 0.02/1,000 to 19/1,000 at the same events. Drug and alcohol related presentations from sporting MGEs contributed up to 10% of ED presentations. Alcohol was a contributing factor in up to 25% of cases of ambulance transfers.

Conclusions: Drug and alcohol intoxication has varying levels of impact on PPR, TTHR, and ED presentation numbers depending on the type of sporting MGE. More research is needed to understand if drug and alcohol intoxication alone influences PPR, TTHR, and ED presentations or if it is multifactorial. Inconsistent data collection and reporting methods make it challenging to compare different sporting MGEs and propose generalizations. It is imperative that future studies adopt more consistent methods and report drug and alcohol data to better inform resource allocation and care provision.

Delany, C., Crilly, J., & Ranse, J. (2020). Drug and alcohol related patient presentations to emergency departments during sporting mass-gathering events: An integrative review. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine35(3), 298-304.