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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Increasing alcohol restrictions and rates of serious injury in four remote Australian Indigenous communities

To document rates of serious injuries in relation to government alcohol restrictions in remote Australian Indigenous communities.

An ecological study using Royal Flying Doctor Service injury retrieval data, before and after changes in legal access to alcohol in four remote Australian Indigenous communities, Queensland, 1 January 1996 – 31 July 2010.

Changes in rates of aeromedical retrievals for serious injury, and proportion of retrievals for serious injury, before and after alcohol restrictions.

After alcohol restrictions were introduced in 2002–2003, retrieval rates for serious injury dropped initially, and then increased in the 2 years before further restrictions in 2008 (average increase, 2.34 per 1000 per year). This trend reversed in the 2 years after the 2008 restrictions (average decrease, 7.97 per 1000 per year). There was a statistically significant decreasing time trend in serious-injury retrieval rates in each of the four communities for the period 2 years before the 2002–2003 restrictions, 2 years before the 2008 restrictions, and the final 2 years of observations (2009–2010) (P < 0.001 for all four communities combined). Overall, serious-injury retrieval rates dropped from 30 per 1000 in 2008 to 14 per 1000 in 2010, and the proportions of serious-injury retrievals decreased significantly for all four communities.

The absolute and the proportional rates of serious-injury retrievals fell significantly as government restrictions on legal access to alcohol increased; they are now at their lowest recorded level in 15 years.

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