Drug Abuse Warning Network 2010 (DAWN-2010-DS0001)

Study Series details:

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) is a nationally represented public health surveillance system that continuously monitors drug-related visits to hospital emergency departments (EDs). A DAWN case is any ED visit involving recent drug use that is implicated in the ED visit. DAWN captures both ED visits that are directly caused by drugs and those in which drugs are a contributing factor, but not the direct cause of the ED visit. Annually, DAWN produces estimates of drug-related visits to hospital EDs for the nation as a whole and for selected metropolitan areas.

DAWN is used to monitor trends in drug misuse and abuse, identify the emergence of new substances and drug combinations, assess health hazards associated with drug abuse, and estimate the impact of drug misuse and abuse on the Nation’s health care system. DAWN relies on a longitudinal probability sample of hospitals located throughout the United States.

To be eligible for selection into the DAWN sample, a hospital must be a non-federal, short-stay, general surgical and medical hospital located in the United States, with at least one 24-hour ED. The dataset includes demographics, drugs involved in the ED visit (up to 16 drugs from 2004 through 2008 and up to 22 drugs from 2009 through 2011), toxicology confirmation, route of administration, type of case, and disposition of the patient following the visit.

Prepared DAWN Emergency Department National and Metro data tables are available on the DAWN website. The DAWN website also provides access to DAWN reports.


Study details:

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) is a nationally representative public health surveillance system that has monitored drug related emergency department (ED) visits to hospitals since the early 1970s. First administered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the responsibility for DAWN now rests with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ). Over the years, the exact survey methodology has been adjusted to improve the quality, reliability, and generalizability of the information produced by DAWN. The current approach was first fully implemented in the 2004 data collection year.

DAWN relies on a longitudinal probability sample of hospitals located throughout the United States. To be eligible for selection into the DAWN sample, a hospital must be a non-Federal, short-stay, general surgical and medical hospital located in the United States, with at least one 24-hour ED. DAWN cases are identified by the systematic review of ED medical records in participating hospitals. The unit of analysis is any ED visit involving recent drug use. DAWN captures both ED visits that are directly caused by drugs and those in which drugs are a contributing factor but not the direct cause of the ED visit. The reason a patient used a drug is not part of the criteria for considering a visit to be drug-related. Therefore, all types of drug-related events are included: drug misuse or abuse, accidental drug ingestion, drug-related suicide attempts, malicious drug poisonings, and adverse reactions. DAWN does not report medications that are unrelated to the visit.

The DAWN public-use dataset provides information for all types of drugs, including illegal drugs, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, anesthetic gases, substances that have psychoactive effects when inhaled, alcohol when used in combination with other drugs (all ages), and alcohol alone (only for patients aged 20 or younger). Public-use dataset variables describe and categorize up to 22 drugs contributing to the ED visit, including toxicology confirmation and route of administration. Administrative variables specify the type of case, case disposition, categorized episode time of day, and quarter of year. Metropolitan area is included for represented metropolitan areas. Created variables include the number of unique drugs reported and case-level indicators for alcohol, non-alcohol illicit substances, any pharmaceutical, non-medical use of pharmaceuticals, and all misuse and abuse of drugs. Demographic items include age category, sex, and race/ethnicity. Complex sample design and weighting variables are included to calculate various estimates of drug-related ED visits for the Nation as a whole, as well as for specific metropolitan areas, from the ED visits classified as DAWN cases in the selected hospitals.