The association between the incidence of emergency department attendances for alcohol problems and assault incidents attended by police in New South Wales, Australia, 2003–2008: a time–series analysis
Article first published online: 1 NOV 2011
© 2011 The Authors, Addiction © 2011 Society for the Study of Addiction
Volume 107, Issue 3, pages 549–556, March 2012
How to Cite
Descallar, J., Muscatello, D. J., Weatherburn, D., Chu, M. and Moffatt, S. (2012), The association between the incidence of emergency department attendances for alcohol problems and assault incidents attended by police in New South Wales, Australia, 2003–2008: a time–series analysis. Addiction, 107: 549–556. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03623.x
- Issue published online: 8 FEB 2012
- Article first published online: 1 NOV 2011
- Accepted manuscript online: 18 AUG 2011 12:03PM EST
- Submitted 23 November 2010; initial review completed 3 February 2011; final version accepted 14 August 2011
- cross correlation;
- emergency department;
- emergency room;
- Poisson regression;
Aim To assess the short-term temporal relationship between emergency department (ED) attendances for acute alcohol problems and assaults reported to police.
Design Cross-sectional time–series analysis.
Setting Population of New South Wales (NSW), Australia between 2003 and 2008.
Participants All patients who attended any of 56 large NSW public hospital EDs and had a recorded diagnosis of acute alcohol problems, and all persons involved in assault incidents reported to the NSW Police Force.
Measurements Weekly count time–series were formed for ED attendances, assault incidents and persons of interest in assault incidents. Cross-correlation analysis was used to determine any time lag in the relationship between the alcohol and the assault series. Poisson regression was used to assess the magnitude of the relationship. Splines of week controlled for seasonality.
Findings There was no time lag found between the ED and police series. A weekly increase of 100 attendances in people aged 15 years and above to EDs for alcohol problems was associated with an 11% [95% confidence interval (CI): 7–15%] increase in the number of incident assaults attended by police. The relationship was similar and statistically significant for domestic and non-domestic assaults and urban areas. The association was stronger between ED attendances and persons of interest aged 15–24 years (27%, 95% CI: 15–41%), 15–24-year-old males (39%, 95% CI: 16–66%) and 15–24-year-old females (66%, 95% CI: 20–129%).
Conclusions There is a clear, short-term temporal association between independent population-level markers of excessive alcohol use and violence.