Mortality of harmful drinkers increased after reduction of alcohol prices in northern Finland: a 10-year follow-up of head trauma subjects.Neuroepidemiology. 2012; 39(3-4):156-62.N
Alcohol-related mortality may be influenced by the level of alcohol consumption. We investigated the effect of alcohol price reduction on mortality in a cohort of 827 subjects with head injury.
We used the Finnish National Hospital Discharge Register to identify all diagnoses recorded during hospital and health center visits for survivors of the index injury during a follow-up of 10 years. Mortality data were gathered from death records obtained from the Official Cause-of-Death Statistics. Cox proportional hazards model was used to identify independent predictors for death. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were used to characterize the effect of alcohol price reduction on mortality of harmful and non-harmful drinkers.
Alcohol-related deaths increased after the reduction of alcohol prices on March 1, 2004. Subjects recorded as harmful drinkers during the follow-up period were significantly (p < 0.001) more likely than others to die after the price reduction. Older age (HR 1.06, 95% CI 1.05-1.07), moderate-to-severe brain injury (HR 2.39, 95% CI 1.59-3.60) and harmful drinking recorded after the index trauma (HR 2.59, 95% CI 1.62-4.62) were significant (p < 0.001) predictors for death.
We conclude that a political decision to lower the price of alcohol may cause a significant increase in the death rate of harmful drinkers.