University of Western Australia: Young people at high risk of being re-admitted to hospital for alcohol-related harm

A new study from The University of Western Australia has found one in five young people discharged from hospital after alcohol-related harm are at risk of being repeat admissions.

Biostatistician Scott Sims, from School of Population and Global Health at UWA, and Melissa O’Donnell, an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at UWA, were co-authors of Young people with prior health service contacts have increased risk of repeated alcohol-related harm hospitalisations published in Drug and Alcohol Review.

“Young people most at risk of having a repeat alcohol hospitalisation after their first discharge for alcohol-related harm include those with severe mental illness and challenging behaviours, Aboriginal people, males, people with prior ED presentations, prior mental health contacts and prior illicit drug hospitalisations,” Mr Sims said.

The research looked at what caused young people, aged 12-24, to be re-admitted to hospital for alcohol-related harm with the aim of tailoring prevention services to these high-risk individuals.

“The largest increase in the chance of a repeated episode was observed in the first month after initial discharge, providing an opportune time to provide support and interventions to those at risk of repeated harm,” Mr Sims said.

Alcohol-related harm remains one of the leading causes of preventable hospitalisations which continue to place a large burden on hospital resources.

“In a hospital setting, patients presenting with alcohol-related harm are typically resource intensive and can be disruptive, violent and aggressive towards staff and other patients,” Mr Sims said.

It is hoped a comprehensive profiling of the most common types of diagnoses associated with repeat admissions could help with the management and allocation of hospital resources.

The study used data from the Hospital Morbidity Data Collection which was merged with the Mental Health Information System, Emergency Department Data Collection, death registrations and child protection datasets.

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