Are younger and older Australians hospitalised for different alcohol-caused diseases?

Mental and behavioural disorders are the most common alcohol-caused disease resulting in hospitalisation for all age groups. 

In 2013-14, among Australians aged less than 15 years who were hospitalised for alcohol-caused diseases, 87% of hospital separations were due to mental and behavioural disorders; 0% were due to alcoholic liver disease; 0% were due to alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis; 1% were due to alcoholic gastritis; and 12% were due to other causes. In 2013-14, among Australians aged 15-19 years who were hospitalised for alcohol-caused diseases, 89% of hospital separations were due to mental and behavioural disorders; 0.2% were due to alcoholic liver disease; 3% were due to alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis; 4% were due to alcoholic gastritis; and 4% were due to other causes. In 2013-14, among Australians aged 20-29 years who were hospitalised for alcohol-caused diseases, 85% of hospital separations were due to mental and behavioural disorders; 0.7% were due to alcoholic liver disease; 6% were due to alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis; 6% were due to alcoholic gastritis; and 3% were due to other causes. In 2013-14, among Australians aged 30-39 years who were hospitalised for alcohol-caused diseases, 84% of hospital separations were due to mental and behavioural disorders; 3% were due to alcoholic liver disease; 7% were due to alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis; 4% were due to alcoholic gastritis; and 2% were due to other causes. In 2013-14, among Australians aged 40-49 years who were hospitalised for alcohol-caused diseases, 82% of hospital separations were due to mental and behavioural disorders; 6% were due to alcoholic liver disease; 6% were due to alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis; 3% were due to alcoholic gastritis; and 2% were due to other causes. In 2013-14, among Australians aged 50-59 years who were hospitalised for alcohol-caused diseases, 80% of hospital separations were due to mental and behavioural disorders; 11% were due to alcoholic liver disease; 4% were due to alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis; 2% were due to alcoholic gastritis; and 2% were due to other causes. In 2013-14, among Australians aged 60-69 years who were hospitalised for alcohol-caused diseases, 79% of hospital separations were due to mental and behavioural disorders; 14% were due to alcoholic liver disease; 3% were due to alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis; 1% were due to alcoholic gastritis; and 2% were due to other causes. In 2013-14, among Australians aged 70+ years who were hospitalised for alcohol-caused diseases, 75% of hospital separations were due to mental and behavioural disorders; 16% were due to alcoholic liver disease; 5% were due to alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis; 2% were due to alcoholic gastritis; and 3% were due to other causes.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). National Hospital Morbidity Database 2013-14 (NCETA secondary analysis, 2016).

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

This is likely to be an under-estimation of the true number of alcohol-related hospital separations, as data for seven alcohol-caused diseases (alcohol-induced pseudo-Cushing's syndrome; alcoholic polyneuropathy; alcoholic myopathy; maternal care for (suspected) damage to fetus from alcohol; fetus and newborn affected by maternal use of alcohol; fetal alcohol syndrome (dysmorphic); and finding of alcohol in blood) are not publically available for confidentiality reasons.

Alcohol-Caused Disease: A disease, disorder or condition which was directly caused by the individual’s own alcohol consumption.

Diseases classified as directly caused by alcohol use include: mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol use; alcohol-induced pseudo-Cushing’s syndrome; degeneration of nervous system due to alcohol; alcoholic polyneuropathy; alcoholic myopathy; alcoholic cardiomyopathy; alcoholic gastritis; alcoholic liver disease; alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis; alcohol-induced chronic pancreatitis; maternal care for (suspected) damage to fetus from alcohol; fetus and newborn affected by maternal use of alcohol; fetal alcohol syndrome (dysmorphic); finding of alcohol in blood; and  toxic effect of alcohol. For confidentiality reasons, the 2013-14 National Hospital Morbidity Database excludes data for alcohol-induced pseudo-Cushing's syndrome; alcoholic polyneuropathy; alcoholic myopathy; maternal care for (suspected) damage to fetus from alcohol; fetus and newborn affected by maternal use of alcohol; fetal alcohol syndrome (dysmorphic); and finding of alcohol in blood.

Hospital separation: An episode of care for an admitted patient, which can be:

  • a total hospital stay (from admission to discharge, transfer or death); or
  • a portion of a hospital stay beginning or ending in a change of type of care (for example, from acute to rehabilitation).

Separation also means the process by which an admitted patient completes an episode of care either by being discharged, transferring to another hospital, changing type of care, or dying.