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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Australia's health 2010

Australia's health 2010 is the 12th biennial health report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. It's the nation's premier source of statistics and informed commentary on: determinants of health and keys to prevention; diseases and injury; how health varies across population groups; health across the life stages; health services, expenditure and workforce; the health sector's performance.

pg. 90 Alcohol use, risk of harm and health status

This section reports against the 2001 NHMRC alcohol consumption guidelines as these were the guidelines in place when the data were collected. The guidelines were expressed in terms of short-term and long-term risk of harm (injury, ill health and death).

In 2007, an
estimated 17.1% of Australians aged 14 years and older had not consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months (AIHW 2008b), and so are not assessed for risk here. The majority of Australians (60.8%) had drunk at levels considered low risk for harm in the short and long term, and 8.6% had drunk at levels considered risky or high risk for both short- and long-term harm.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people who drank at high-risk levels in 2007, both in the short and long term, were more likely than other drinkers to assess their own health as fair or poor (AIHW 2008b).

People who abstained from alcohol consumption were more
likely to report their health as fair or poor compared with risky or low-risk drinkers. It is important to note that other factors such as age and socioeconomic status may also affect self-assessment of health status.

Risky drinkers also appeared to have poorer mental health: a higher proportion of those
who drank at levels considered to be high risk in the short term reported that they had a mental health illness (13.2%) compared with low-risk drinkers (10.2%) or the whole population aged 14 years and over (10.8%) (AIHW 2008b). The survey also showed that high-risk (15.3%) and risky (11.0%) drinkers were more likely than low-risk drinkers (8.5%) to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress.

The relationship
between mental health and alcohol consumption is not in one direction. In some cases, mental health issues may have preceded or prompted alcohol use, while for others the alcohol use may have occurred first.

Read Full Report (PDF)

Read Section 3 Determinants: keys to prevention (PDF)