The idea might seem old hat to nursing staff working near some of Australia’s nightlife districts, but a UK study has found that areas with more alcohol vendors have higher drink-related hospital admission rates.
Places in England populated with the most pubs, bars and nightclubs had a 13 per cent higher hospital admission rate for acute conditions caused by alcohol and a 22 per cent higher rate for chronic conditions caused by alcohol.
The University of Sheffield study looked at data on more than one million hospital admissions wholly attributable to alcohol over 12 years.
Funded by Alcohol Research UK, the research found that a higher density of restaurants licensed to serve alcohol, convenience stores, and hotels, casinos and sports clubs also brought about higher admissions rates for alcohol-related acute and chronic conditions.
Still, the strongest link was between pubs, bars and nightclubs and admissions for alcoholic liver disease.
Professor Ravi Maheswaran said while the team can’t confirm whether the clear associations between alcohol outlet densities and hospital admissions observed in the study are causally linked, he added there is emerging evidence from other studies suggesting that local licencing enforcement could reduce alcohol related harms.
Dr James Nicholls, director of research and policy development at Alcohol Research UK said local licensing authorities need to factor the relationship between outlet density and alcohol hospital admissions into their decisions.
“We often hear that no individual outlet can be held responsible for increased hospital admissions, and because of this licensing teams can’t plan on that basis. However, this study adds weight to the argument that licensing needs to also think about the overall level of availability in a given area,” Nicholls said.
“As the evidence on the relationship between availability and harm becomes stronger, those tasked with regulating the market need to respond."Do you have an idea for a story?
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