According to a 2016 Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) report, from 2004 to 2013 nearly one billion dollars of health care costs in Ontario could be attributed to alcohol consumption. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), alcohol consumption is estimated to cause from 20% to 50% of cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, poisonings, road traffic collisions, violence and several types of cancer.
Alcohol-attributable hospitalizations (AAH) are defined as the number of hospital stays in a population that are caused by alcohol use. AAH are calculated by estimating the Alcohol-Attributable Fraction (AAF) for specific alcohol-related causes (e.g. cirrhosis). The number of hospitalizations attributable to alcohol for each of these causes are calculated separately and then added together to determine the total number of hospitalizations that were caused by alcohol use. The data presented on this page follows the method posted on the Association of Public Health Epidemiologists in Ontario (APHEO) website.
In Simcoe Muskoka, for the five-year period between 2010 and 2014, there were over 600 hospitalizations per year that could be attributed to alcohol use. The age-standardized rate for alcohol-attributable hospitalizations during this time period was 161 (155.4, 166.8) per 100,000 population 15 to 69 years of age. The age-standardized rate (per 100,000) of alcohol-attributable hospitalizations was significantly higher for males (196 (187.4, 205.2)) when compared with females (126 (118.8, 133.0)).
Approximately three-quarters of all alcohol attributable hospitalizations were for chronic diseases including mental disorders, pancreatitis, cardiac arrhythmias, cirrhosis of the liver, and several types of cancer (including: breast cancer, esophageal cancer, larynx cancer, liver cancer, oral cancer and ‘other’ cancers). Alcohol-attributable hospitalizations were higher among males compared with females for mental disorders (including alcohol withdrawal, alcohol dependence and other mental disorders that are completely attributable to alcohol use), cardiac arrhythmias and cirrhosis of the liver. Alcohol-attributable hospitalizations for cancer were higher among females when compared with males.
More than one-third of all injury-related alcohol-attributable hospitalizations were for intentional self-harm (including intentional self-poisoning by alcohol). Approximately 20 per cent of injury-related alcohol-attributable hospitalizations were classified as ‘other’, the majority of these being other unintentional injuries such as injuries sustained during sports, non-traffic transport collisions, as well as many other types of unintentional injuries. Injury-related alcohol-attributable hospitalizations were higher among males compared with females for falls and motor vehicle collisions. Alcohol-attributable hospitalizations for intentional self-harm were higher among females when compared with males.
Although alcohol consumption increases with higher levels of income, alcohol-related harms (like hospitalizations) disproportionately impact those with lower levels of income. In Simcoe Muskoka among the population 15-69 years of age, those living in neighbourhoods in the lowest income quintile experience twice the rate of alcohol-attributable hospitalizations when compared to those in the highest income quintile. This disparity was consistent for both men and women.