The burden of alcohol-related morbidity and mortality in Ottawa, Canada

PLoS One. 2017 Sep 28;12(9):e0185457. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185457. eCollection 2017.


Objectives: Alcohol-related morbidity and mortality are significant public health issues. The purpose of this study was to describe the prevalence and trends over time of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related morbidity and mortality; and public attitudes of alcohol use impacts on families and the community in Ottawa, Canada.

Methods: Prevalence (2013-2014) and trends (2000-2001 to 2013-2014) of alcohol use were obtained from the Canadian Community Health Survey. Data on paramedic responses (2015), emergency department (ED) visits (2013-2015), hospitalizations (2013-2015) and deaths (2007-2011) were used to quantify the acute and chronic health effects of alcohol in Ottawa. Qualitative data were obtained from the "Have Your Say" alcohol survey, an online survey of public attitudes on alcohol conducted in 2016.

Results: In 2013-2014, an estimated 595,300 (83%) Ottawa adults 19 years and older drank alcohol, 42% reported binge drinking in the past year. Heavy drinking increased from 15% in 2000-2001 to 20% in 2013-2014. In 2015, the Ottawa Paramedic Service responded to 2,060 calls directly attributable to alcohol. Between 2013 and 2015, there were an average of 6,100 ED visits and 1,270 hospitalizations per year due to alcohol. Annually, alcohol use results in at least 140 deaths in Ottawa. Men have higher rates of alcohol-attributable paramedic responses, ED visits, hospitalizations and deaths than women, and young adults have higher rates of alcohol-attributable paramedic responses. Qualitative data of public attitudes indicate that alcohol misuse has greater repercussions not only on those who drink, but also on the family and community.

Conclusions: Results highlight the need for healthy public policy intended to encourage a culture of drinking in moderation in Ottawa to support lower risk alcohol use, particularly among men and young adults.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / mortality*
  • Attitude
  • Binge Drinking / epidemiology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Culture
  • Demography
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Risk Factors
  • Underage Drinking / statistics & numerical data
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.