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Open Access Research article

Combining best evidence: A novel method to calculate the alcohol-attributable fraction and its variance for injury mortality

Benjamin J Taylor12*, Kevin D Shield1 and Jürgen T Rehm1234

Author Affiliations

1 Social and Epidemiological Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada

3 Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Canada

4 Epidemiological Research Unit, Technische Universität Dresden, Klinische Psychologie & Psychotherapie, Dresden, Germany

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:265  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-265

Published: 27 April 2011

Abstract

Background

The alcohol-attributable fraction for injury mortality is defined as the proportion of fatal injury that would disappear if consumption went to zero. Estimating this fraction has previously been based on a simplistic view of drinking and associated risk. This paper develops a new way to calculate the alcohol-attributable fraction for injury based on different dimensions of drinking, mortality data, experimental data, survey research, new risk scenarios, and by incorporating different distributions of consumption within populations. For this analysis, the Canadian population in 2005 was used as the reference population.

Methods

Binge drinking and average daily consumption were modeled separately with respect to the calculation of the AAF. The acute consumption risk was calculated with a probability-based method that accounted for both the number of binge drinking occasions and the amount of alcohol consumed per occasion. The average daily consumption was computed based on the prevalence of daily drinking at various levels. These were both combined to get an overall estimate. 3 sensitivity analyses were performed using different alcohol consumption parameters to test the robustness of the model. Calculation of the variance to generate confidence limits around the point estimates was accomplished via Monte Carlo resampling methods on randomly generated AAFs that were based on the distribution and prevalence of drinking in the Canadian population.

Results

Overall, the AAFs decrease with age and are significantly lower for women than men across all ages. As binge drinking increases, the injury mortality AAF also increases. Motor vehicle collisions show the largest relative increases in AAF as alcohol consumption is increased, with over a 100% increase in AAF from the lowest to highest consumption category. Among non-motor vehicle collisions, the largest change in total AAF occurred both for homicide and other intentional injuries at about a 15% increase in the AAF from the lowest to the highest binge consumption scenarios.

Conclusions

This method combines the best available evidence to generate new alcohol-attributable fractions for alcohol-attributable injury mortality. Future research is needed to refine the risk function for non-motor vehicle injury types and to investigate potential interactions between binge drinking and average volume of alcohol consumption.