Protocol for the Data-Linkage Alcohol Cohort Study (DACS): investigating mortality, morbidity and offending among people with an alcohol-related problem using linked administrative data
Introduction: The aims of this program of research are to use linked health and law enforcement data to describe individuals presenting to emergency and inpatient healthcare services with an acute alcohol harm or problematic alcohol use; measure their health service utilisation and law enforcement engagement; and quantify morbidity, mortality, offending and incarceration.
Methods and Analysis: We will assemble a retrospective cohort of people presenting to emergency departments and/or admitted to hospitals between 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2014 in New South Wales, Australia with a diagnosis denoting an acute alcohol harm or problematic alcohol use. We will link these data with records from other healthcare services (eg, community-based mental healthcare data, cancer registry), mortality, offending and incarceration data sets. The four overarching areas for analysis comprise: (1) describing the characteristics of the cohort at their first point of contact with emergency and inpatient hospital services in the study period with a diagnosis indicating an acute alcohol harm and/or problematic alcohol use; (2) quantifying health service utilisation and law enforcement engagement; (3) quantifying rates of mortality, morbidity, offending and incarceration; and (4) assessing predictors (eg, age, sex) of mortality, morbidity, offending and incarceration among this cohort.
Ethics and Dissemination: Ethics approval has been provided by the New South Wales Population and Health Services Research Ethics Committee. We will report our findings in accordance with the REporting of studies Conducted using Observational Routinely collected health Data (RECORD) statement and Guidelines for Accurate and Transparent Health Estimates Reporting (GATHER) where appropriate. We will publish data in tabular, aggregate forms only. We will not disclose individual results. We will disseminate project findings at scientific conferences and in peer-reviewed journals. We will aim to present findings to relevant stakeholders (eg, addiction medicine and emergency medicine specialists, policy makers) to maximise translational impact of research findings.