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Mortality in adolescents and young adults following a first presentation to the emergency department for alcohol


Background and Methods — We conducted a population-based, retrospective cohort study of first-time emergency department (ED) visits in adolescents and young adults (AYA) due to alcohol and compared mortality to AYA with non-alcohol ED visits between 2009 and 2015 using standardized all-cause mortality ratios (age, sex, income, and rurality). We described the cause of death for AYA and examined the association between clinical factors and mortality rates in the alcohol cohort using proportional hazard models.

Results — A total of 71,776 AYA had a first-time ED visit due to alcohol (56.1% male, mean age 20.7 years) between 2009 and 2015, representing 3.3% of the 2,166,838 AYA with an ED visit in this time period. At one year, there were 2,396 deaths, 248 (10.3%) following an ED visit related to alcohol. First-time alcohol ED visits were associated with a three-fold higher risk in mortality at one year (0.35% vs. 0.10%, adjusted Hazard Ratio [aHR] 3.07, 95%CI 2.69–3.51). Mortality was associated with age 25-29 years (aHR 3.88 95%CI 2.56-5.86), being male (aHR 1.98 95%CI 1.49–2.62), having a history of mental health or substance use (aHR 3.22 95%CI 1.64–6.32), cause of visit being withdrawal/dependence (aHR 2.81 95%CI 1.96-4.02), and having recurrent ED visits (aHR 1.97 95%CI 1.27–3.05). Trauma (42.7%), followed by poisonings from drugs other than opioids (38.3%), and alcohol (28.6%) were the most common contributing causes of death.

Conclusion — Incident ED visits due to alcohol in AYA are associated with a high risk of one-year mortality, especially in young adults, those with concurrent mental health or substance use disorders, and those with a more severe initial presentation. These findings may help inform the need and urgency for follow-up care in this population.



Harrison LD, Dumicho AY, Bader Eddeen A, Tanuseputro P, Kendall CE, Fiedorowicz JG, Rosic T, Fernando SM, McNaughton CD, Corace K, Kurdyak P, Beckerleg W, Webber C, Gardner W, Sood M, Myran DT.

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