OTTAWA - Alcohol-related hospital emergency room visits are on the rise in Ontario, particularly among women and people in their late 20s, according to medical researchers.
The study was led by researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services, The Ottawa Hospital, the Bruyère Research Institute and the University of Ottawa. The researchers pored over 13 years of data on emergency room visits in Ontario, between 2003 and 2016. Their findings were published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
During the study period, alcohol-related emergency room visits increased four times faster than the overall rate of emergency department visits.
"We found that ED visits due to alcohol use are rapidly increasing in Ontario," said Dr. Daniel Myran, the lead author and 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."
The age group that had the largest increase in alcohol-related emergency room visits was young adults aged 25 to 29, with a 175 per cent increase (27.2 visits per 10,000 individuals to 74.9 visits per 10,000). The researchers also found that there was an 86 per cent increase in alcohol-related ER visits among women (from 20.7 visits to 38.6 visits per 10,000 individuals), compared to a 53 per cent increase among men (from 51.1 to 78.3 visits per 10,000 individuals).
Women's alcohol-related ER visits were most likely to happen around the time they reached legal drinking age, while men's highest rate of emergency department visits attributable to alcohol was in their early 50s.
The data comes from before the Ford government started expanding access to alcohol in Ontario.
The researchers say the health harms and the health system burden of alcohol have increased in Ontario, and have disproportionately affected women and young adults. They urge policymakers to consider increasing interventions to reduce harmful alcohol use, particularly in women and young adults.
- OttawaMatters.com/Rogers Media