Risks of alcohol-attributable hospitalisation and death in Australia over time: Evidence of divergence by region, age and sex.
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BackgroundPast reports on trends of alcohol consumption and related harm have generally been descriptive in nature and have not provided evidence of whether changes over time are significant.AimsWe investigated whether: (i) the risk of alcohol-attributable hospitalisation and death between 1994 and 2005 for three different age groups changed significantly across all Australian jurisdictions; and (ii) the relative rates of hospitalisation for males and females changed over time.MethodEstimates of alcohol-attributable hospitalisations and deaths were calculated using the aetiologic fraction method. Hospitalisations and deaths were grouped by age: 15-29 years, 30-44 years and 45+ years. Risk estimates and risk differences were analysed using Poisson regression.ResultsRisk of alcohol-attributable hospital separations increased nationally and across most jurisdictions throughout the study period. Male and female rates converged over time. Alcohol-attributable deaths decreased nationally across the three age groups and across several jurisdictions beginning in the mid-1990s.ConclusionNationally, alcohol-attributable deaths declined while hospitalisations rose. However, states with higher population density tended to drive national rates, with considerable variation by jurisdiction. The conditions which dominated hospitalisations (e.g. alcohol dependence, falls) differed substantially from those underlying alcohol-attributable deaths (e.g. alcoholic liver cirrhosis, road crashes). Jurisdictional variation in death and hospitalisations rates as well as changes over time may be partly due to differences in: regulation of alcohol supply; patterns and levels of alcohol consumption; the nature and effectiveness of law enforcement; demographic characteristics of general and sub-populations; and medical health services and screening for chronic conditions.
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