Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Alcohol consumption, smoking and overweight as a burden for health care services utilization: a cross-sectional study in Estonia

Kaire Vals12*, Raul-Allan Kiivet1 and Mall Leinsalu34

Author affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, University of Tartu, Ravila 19, Tartu 50411, Estonia

2 Infectious Diseases and Drug Monitoring Department, National Institute for Health Development, Tallinn, Estonia

3 Stockholm Centre on Health of Societies in Transition, Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden

4 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, National Institute for Health Development, Tallinn, Estonia

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:772  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-772

Published: 23 August 2013

Abstract

Background

Alcohol consumption, smoking and weight problems are common risk factors for different health problems. We examine how these risk factors are associated with the use of health care services.

Methods

Data for 6500 individuals in the 25–64 age group came from three cross-sectional postal surveys conducted in 2004, 2006, and 2008 in Estonia. The effect of alcohol consumption, smoking and weight problems on the use of primary and specialist care services, hospitalizations and ambulance calls was analysed separately for men and women by using binary logistic regression.

Results

Overweight and/or obesity were strongly related to the use of primary care and out-patient specialist services for both genders, and to hospitalizations and ambulance calls for women. Current smoking was related to ambulance calls for both genders, whereas smoking in the past was related to the use of primary care and specialist services among men and to hospitalizations among women. Beer drinking was negatively associated with all types of health care services and similar association was found between wine drinking and hospitalizations. Wine drinking was positively related to specialist visits. The frequent drinking of strong alcohol led to an increased risk for ambulance calls. Drinking light alcoholic drinks was positively associated with all types of health care services (except ambulance calls) among men and with the use of specialist services among women.

Conclusions

Overweight and smoking had the largest impact on health care utilization in Estonia. Considering the high prevalence of these behavioural risk factors, health policies should prioritize preventive programs that promote healthy lifestyles in order to decrease the disease burden and to reduce health care costs.

Keywords:
Health care utilization; Smoking; Alcohol; Overweight; Obesity