Aims: To evaluate the effects of changes in aggregate alcohol consumption on overall fatal accidents, motor vehicle accidents, fatal falling accidents and drowning accidents in Canadian provinces after 1950.
Design: Time-series analysis of annual mortality rates (15-69 years) in relation to per capita alcohol consumption, utilising the Box-Jenkins technique. All series were differenced to remove long-term trends.
Measurements: Gender-specific and age-adjusted mortality rates for the age group 15-69 years were calculated on the basis of mortality data for 5-year age groups, using a standard population. Data on per capita alcohol consumption was converted to consumption per inhabitant 15 years and older. In the analysis of motor vehicle accidents, the number of motor vehicles was used as a control variable.
Findings: Statistically significant associations between alcohol consumption and overall fatal accident rates were uncovered in all provinces for males, and in all provinces except Ontario for females. For Canada at large, an increase in per capita alcohol consumption of 1 litre was accompanied by an increase in accident mortality of 5.9 among males and 1.9 among females per 100,000 inhabitants. Among males there was a significant association with alcohol for both falling accidents, motor vehicle accident and other accidents, but the association was insignificant for drowning accidents. Among females, the association with falling accidents and other accidents was significant.
Conclusion: Changes in alcohol consumption have had substantial effects on most of the main types of fatal accidents in Canada during the second half of the 20th century. The size of the association is comparable to the one previously reported from Northern Europe.