Alcohol-related ED visits disproportionately increasing in women and young adults

Posted on Friday, July 19, 2019

sign designating the entrance to an emergency room

More Ontarians are ending up in emergency departments (ED) due to alcohol use, with the largest increases happening in women, and young adults between the ages of 25 and 29, according to a new study led by researchers at ICES, The Ottawa Hospital, the Bruyère Research Institute and the University of Ottawa.

The study, published in the CMAJ, identified a total of 765,354 ED visits in Ontario due to alcohol use over a 14-year study period (2003-2016). These visits represented 1.2 per cent of all ED visits in Ontario. The number of ED visits due to alcohol increased on average by 6.7 per cent (2676 visits) per year over the study period. After adjusting for the aging and growing population, the researchers found that ED visits due to alcohol increased by 86 per cent in women (from 20.7 visits to 38.6 visits per 10,000 individuals) and 53 per cent in men (from 51.1 to 78.3 visits per 10,000 individuals). By comparison, while ED visits due to any cause also increased over the study period, the observed increase in ED visits due to alcohol was 4.4 times greater.

“We found that ED visits due to alcohol use are rapidly increasing in Ontario,” says lead author Dr. Daniel Myran, a family physician and public health and preventive medicine resident at the University of Ottawa, who is also training at The Ottawa Hospital and Bruyère Research Institute. “These increases are consistent with data showing increasing average weekly alcohol consumption in Ontario and higher rates of binge drinking during the study period, particularly in women across Canada.”

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