Alcohol-related cognitive impairment in New South Wales hospital patients aged 50 years and over

Brian Draper, Rosemary Karmel, Diane Gibson, Ann Peut, Philip Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The aim of this study was to describe the principal reasons for admission, medical comorbidities, interventions and outcomes of patients admitted to New South Wales hospitals with alcohol-related cognitive impairment.

Methods: We extracted data from the NSW Admitted Patient Care Database for nearly 410 000 multi-day hospital admissions from 222 public hospitals ending between July 2006 and June 2007 for people aged 50 and over. Data linkage using a unique patient identifier, derived by the Centre for Health Record Linkage identified hospital transfers and readmissions for individual patients. Using ICD10-AM codes, we identified patients with alcohol-related dementia, amnesic syndrome due to alcohol, and Wernicke's encephalopathy, their principal reasons for admission and medical comorbidities, and procedures undertaken. Outcomes were length of stay, mortality, discharge destination, and readmission.

Results: A total of 462 patients diagnosed with alcohol-related dementia (n = 300; 82% male, mean age 63.9 years), Wernicke's encephalopathy (n = 77) or amnesic syndrome due to alcohol (n = 126) were identified with overlap between diagnoses. Alcohol-related dementia occurred in 1.4% of dementia patients, and was more likely to occur in younger age groups and men than other types of dementia. Alcohol-related mental disorder was recorded in 70% of alcohol-related dementia multi-day admissions: dependence (52%), ‘harmful use’ (11%) and withdrawal (12%). Principal reasons for admission for multi-day stays included alcohol-related mental disorder (18%), liver disease (11%) and injuries/poisonings (10%). Medical comorbidity was common. Like other dementia patients, alcohol-related dementia patients had longer length of stay (mean of 15 days) than non-dementia patients and more transfers to residential care (7%). However, mortality was similar to non-dementia patients (5%). Discharge at own risk was high (3.7%).

Conclusions: Alcohol-related dementia is a preventable and potentially reversible condition. Investigation of intervention strategies initiated during hospitalization are warranted
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)985-992
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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