Open Access Research article

Recurring alcohol-related care between 1998 and 2007 among people treated for an alcohol-related disorder in 1997: A register study in Stockholm County

Kozma Ahacic1*, Kerstin Damström-Thakker2 and Ingemar Kåreholt3

Author Affiliations

1 Karolinska Institutet, Social medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Box 170 70, SE - 104 62 Stockholm, Sweden

2 Karolinska Institutet, Applied Public Health, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Box 170 70, SE - 104 62 Stockholm, Sweden

3 Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institutet & Stockholm University, Gävlegatan 16, SE - 113 39 Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:574  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-574

Published: 19 July 2011



Inpatient care for alcohol intoxication is increasing in Sweden, especially among young women. Since it is well known that alcohol disorder is a chronic relapsing illness, this study examines the extent to which people return for more care.


All inpatients with alcohol-related diagnoses in Stockholm County during 1997 were followed prospectively to 2007 through registers. The proportion reappearing for the same diagnosis, other alcohol-related inpatient, or outpatient care each year after baseline, as well as the number of years the inpatients reappeared were calculated (n = 2735). Three diagnoses were examined separately; alcohol dependence, harmful use of alcohol, and alcohol intoxication.


Three out of five inpatients with an alcohol diagnoses reappeared for more alcohol-related inpatient care during the following decade. The proportion returning was largest the year after baseline and then decreased curvilinearly over time. The inclusion of outpatient care increased proportions, but did not change patterns. Of those with an alcohol dependence diagnosis at baseline 42 percent returned for more alcohol-related inpatient care the first, 28 percent the fifth, and 25 percent the tenth year. Corresponding proportions for harmful use and intoxication were smaller. One in five among those with an alcohol dependence returned for more than five of the ten years. Ordered logistic regressions confirmed that besides diagnosis, age and gender were independently related to the number of years returning to care.


While middle-aged males with alcohol dependence were in a revolving door, young female inpatients with intoxication diagnosis returned to a comparably lower degree.

recidivism; relapse; treatment; revolving door; rehospitalization