Study determines an increase in the number of alcohol-related ED visits

An insightful research published recently in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) points out an increase in the number of visits to the Emergency Departments (ED), and especially highlights alcohol related visits among women, which were determined to be higher. The study also draws attention to an increase in the number of admission of young people aged from 25 to 29.

For the findings, the study saw involvement of 765 346 ED visits by 480 611 people between 2003 and 2016 in Canada’s Ontario. Among the participants, 32% were women. Moreover, 17% of women were below the legal drinking age, which is 19 years. The highest number was observed among women belonging to the age group 15-24 years and for men, among 45-54 years. Alcohol-related admissions increased to 240% in women for people aged between 25-29 and ED visits owning to alcohol were determined to be 13%, in comparison to 10% of general ED visits. It was also observed that alcohol related visits were twice higher in neighborhoods falling within low income brackets.

The results demonstrated an increase in weekly alcohol consumption in Ontario and signaled higher rates of binge drinking across the country during the same time period, especially among women. According to Dr. Daniel Myran, a family physician and public health resident at the University of Ottawa, Ontario, he said the ED visits increased among women for underage legal drinking and the number surpassed that of underage men. “We need a better understanding of youth- and gender-specific risk factors for alcohol harms to curb these increases,” he commented on the findings.

The data findings were observed to be equivalent with alcohol-related visits in the United States, which was 47% between 2006 and 2014 and in England, it was observed to be 51% between 2002 and 2014.

Furthermore, data findings in the United States also showed growing disparities among high and low income groups. The research thus also sheds light on inappropriate alcohol induced health burden among the group, a disparity which was observed to be widening with time. The results in Canada showed a comparative less number in heavy drinking among low-income groups than in the US.

“There may be an increasing need for supports and services for people, especially young people, with high-risk alcohol consumption, particularly in light of recent changes to how alcohol is sold in Ontario, including making alcohol cheaper and easier to purchase,” observes Dr. Myran.

Dr. Sheryl Spithoff, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto offers an advice on the result findings, “To minimize harms the federal and provincial governments should employ a public health approach to maximize benefits and minimize harms. Alcohol should be available for sale only within licensed and strictly monitored facilities with limited hours. Taxes and price minimums should be used to reduce alcohol-related harms. The increase in tax revenues could be used to fund essential provincial programs.”