Epidemiol Health.  2019;41:e2019041. 10.4178/epih.e2019041.

Alcohol-related emergency department visits and income inequality in New York City, USA: an ecological study

Affiliations
  • 1Bureau of Epidemiology Services, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, NY, USA. kreilly3@health.nyc.gov
  • 2Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention, Care and Treatment, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, NY, USA.

Abstract


OBJECTIVES
Previous research has found that greater income inequality is related to problematic alcohol use across a variety of geographical areas in the USA and New York City (NYC). Those studies used self-reported data to assess alcohol use. This study examined the relationship between within-neighborhood income inequality and alcohol-related emergency department (ED) visits.
METHODS
The study outcome was the alcohol-related ED visit rate per 10,000 persons between 2010 and 2014, using data obtained from the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System. The main predictor of interest was income inequality, measured using the Gini coefficient from the American Community Survey (2010-2014) at the public use microdata area (PUMA) level (n=55) in NYC. Variables associated with alcohol-related ED visits in bivariate analyses were considered for inclusion in a multivariable model.
RESULTS
There were 420,568 alcohol-related ED visits associated with a valid NYC address between 2010 and 2014. The overall annualized NYC alcohol-related ED visit rate was 100.7 visits per 10,000 persons. The median alcohol ED visit rate for NYC PUMAs was 88.0 visits per 10,000 persons (interquartile range [IQR], 64.5 to 133.5), and the median Gini coefficient was 0.48 (IQR, 0.45 to 0.51). In the multivariable model, a higher neighborhood Gini coefficient, a lower median age, and a lower percentage of male residents were independently associated with the alcohol-related ED visit rate.
CONCLUSIONS
This study found that higher neighborhood income inequality was associated with higher neighborhood alcohol-related ED visit rates. The precise mechanism of this relationship is not understood, and further investigation is warranted to determine temporality and to assess whether the results are generalizable to other locales.

Keyword

Socioeconomic factors; Alcohol drinking; Urban health; New York City
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