What were the impacts of COVID-19?
The second half of the 2019–20 reporting period coincided with the beginning of the COVID–19 pandemic in Australia. The social restrictions and behaviour changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the number and type of alcohol-related injury hospitalisations. For example, in April 2020 in Victoria all types of emergency department presentations were 32% lower compared to the same month in 2019 (VISU 2020).
National data show that in April 2020 there were 20% fewer alcohol-related injury hospitalisations than the same month in the previous year. However, by May and June 2020, with the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions, hospital admissions for alcohol-related injury hospitalisations had rebounded, exceeding pre-pandemic levels for those months (Figure 11).
Figure 11 also shows that December is the month with the most hospitalisations, coinciding with the end-of-year holiday period.
Figure 11: Number of alcohol-related injury hospitalisations by month of admission, 2017–18 to 2019–20
Line graph showing that over 2019–20 the number of alcohol-related injury hospitalisations was comparable to previous years, however from March to April there is a marked decrease in hospitalisations coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were differences in the cause of alcohol-related injury hospitalisations during this period compared to the same period in previous years (Figure 12). Compared to data from April 2018–19, alcohol-related hospitalisations in April 2019–20 for:
- assault injuries decreased by 30% (from 405 to 285)
- transport injuries decreased by 26% (230 to 170)
- fall injuries decreased by 21% (from 1,060 to 840)
- intentional self-harm injuries decreased by 15% (from 680 to 580).
Figure 12: Number of alcohol-related injury hospitalisations by cause and month of admission, 2017–18 to 2019–20
Line graph showing that all causes of alcohol-related injury hospitalisations observed a decrease in March to April in 2019–20 compared to previous years. Hospitalised alcohol-related assault injuries observed the largest reduction in hospitalisations in 2019–20 compared to other causes.
There were notable differences in the data for where alcohol-related injury hospitalisations occurred during this time compared to the previous year (Figure 13). Compared to data from April 2018–19, hospitalisations for alcohol-related injuries:
- in non-residential settings (including health service facilities, industrial or construction areas, schools, sports or athletic areas, street or highways, and trade or service areas) decreased by 45% (from 506 to 275)
- at home increased by 6.7% (from 1,030 to 1,100).
Figure 13: Number of alcohol-related injury hospitalisations by place of occurrence and month of admission, 2017–18 to 2019–20
Line graph showing that non-residential areas observed a decrease in number of alcohol-related injury hospitalisations over March to April in 2019–20 compared to previous year. Hospitalisations for alcohol-related injuries that occurred in the home increased over March to April in 2019–20 compared to previous years.