9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Drugs and Medications in a European Context II Building I, 1E4

Exploration of the impact of a large reduction in alcohol prices on hospital admissions related to alcohol

In 2004 there was a large reduction in the price of alcohol in Finland due to a reduction in alcohol taxes by one-third, on the average, and due to the abolition of travellers' duty free allowances from the EU. The Finnish natural experiment is a good opportunity to study what happens in alcohol-related problems when prices go down. We examined to what extent the observed changes affected hospital admissions related to alcohol. Time series intervention analysis with auto-regressive integrated moving average modelling was applied to the monthly aggregations of hospital admissions in Finland for the period 1996-2006 to assess the impact of the reduction in alcohol prices. Analyses were carried out for men and women aged 15-39, 40-49, 50-69 and >69 years.The impact of the price reduction on hospital admissions related to alcohol varied according to sex and age. The rate in chronic hospital admissions increased in every age-group under age of 70 years in men. Among men aged 50-69 years, the increase was largest: the impact parameter of 0.20 indicates an increase of 22% in mean rate of hospitalizations which implies an increase of 18.0 monthly hospitalizations per 100,000 person-years. In other age-groups the increase varied from 13-16% (4.8-13.0 hospitalizations). Among women aged 50-69 years, the rate in chronic causes increased by 25% (4.3 hospitalizations) while among women under age of 40 years, the rate decreased. Among men, the rate in acute hospital admissions increased in every age-group under age of 70 years. The increase was largest by 18% and 20% (7.2 and 6.2 hospitalizations) among men aged 40-49 and 50-69 years. Among women aged 50-69 years, the rate in acute causes increased by 38% (2.3 hospitalizations) while in other female age-groups, an increase was not statistically significant.These results suggest that a reduction in alcohol prices led to increases in hospital admissions related to alcohol in certain population subgroups in Finland even when trends and seasonal variation had been taken into account. Particularly, persons aged 50-69 years were affected.