The relationship between the pattern of alcohol consumption and healthcare utilization in Taiwan

April 2014
Taiwan Journal of Publich Health / Taiwan Gong Gong Wei Sheng Za;Apr2014, Vol. 33 Issue 2, p197
Academic Journal
Objectives: The problematic drinking of alcohol may not only elevate the risk of health problems but also increase healthcare utilization. The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between different patterns of problematic alcohol consumption and healthcare utilization in Taiwan. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study design. The data source was the 2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The study population (n=16,881) included young (aged 18-39 years) and middle-aged (aged 40-64 years) adults. Problematic drinking of alcohol was defined as binge drinking and probable alcoholism. Healthcare utilization covered outpatient, emergency and inpatient medical services. Complex survey analyses in poisson and logit distribution were used to assess estimates of the association with stratification by age. Results: During the year preceding the survey, approximately 1.82% of the young adults and 4.82% of the middle-aged adults drank alcohol on a daily basis; the corresponding estimates for probable alcoholism were 2.40% and 2.27%. After adjustment for socio-demographic characteristics, health behaviors, and other medical diseases, middle-aged probable alcoholics were more likely to use emergency room services (adjusted Odds Ratio [aOR]=2.06, 95% CI: 1.21-3.52) and inpatient services (aOR=1.68, 95% CI: 0.95-2.96) as compared with those who never drank. For young adults, having problems with alcohol was associated with increased utilization of outpatient services (aRR=1.78, 95% CI: 1.11-2.85). Conclusions: There was a relationship between problematic drinking and healthcare utilization, and such links differed slightly by age group. To reduce the healthcare burden associated with problematic drinking, screening and behavioral counseling interventions in primary care and the workplace should be considered.


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