The effect of short-term alcohol restrictions on risk of alcohol-related injury

April 2016
Liang, W., Gilmore, W. and Chikritzhs, T.N. (2016). The effect of short-term alcohol restrictions on risk of alcohol-related injury: A state wide population-based study. International Journal of Drug Policy, 28, pp. 55-59.

Alcohol consumption and related harms are largely determined by both demand and supply of alcohol. Across Western Australia, under state licensing laws, there are state-wide alcohol sales restrictions imposed on Good Friday and Christmas Day each year. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of the Good Friday and Christmas Day state-wide alcohol restrictions on the risk of alcohol-related injuries presenting at emergency departments.

This population-based cohort study used ED injury presentation data for the period 1st January 2002 to 1st January 2015. Risk of injury during the alcohol-related time of day affected by the alcohol restrictions (intervention periods, including Good Friday and Christmas Day) were compared to the same time of day over a number of control days. Multivariable Poisson regression model was used to perform the analysis.

The crude injury risk was considerably lower during the alcohol restriction periods compared to control periods in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. The protective effect observed on the days of the alcohol restrictions remained significant, and largely unchanged, when potential confounding effects were controlled for.

The significant reduction in alcohol-related injury presentations observed for public holiday periods with alcohol restrictions were likely caused by the alcohol restriction policy and its direct effect on alcohol supply.