Unintended consequences : Alcohol screening at urban Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services was suppressed during COVID-19 lockdowns

Journal article


Conigrave, James, Devine, Emma K., Lee, K. S. Kylie, Dobbins, Timothy, Vnuk, Julia, Hayman, Noel and Conigrave, Kate. (2023). Unintended consequences : Alcohol screening at urban Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services was suppressed during COVID-19 lockdowns. Drug and Alcohol Review. 42(7), pp. 1633-1638. https://doi.org/10.1111/dar.13761
AuthorsConigrave, James, Devine, Emma K., Lee, K. S. Kylie, Dobbins, Timothy, Vnuk, Julia, Hayman, Noel and Conigrave, Kate
Abstract

Introduction: Regular screening for risky drinking is important to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. We explored whether the rate of screening for risky drinking using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test—Consumption (AUDIT-C) questions was disrupted at Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) during state-wide and territory-wide COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of screening data from 22 ACCHSs located in New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. These services provide holistic and culturally appropriate primary care. A multi-level Poisson regression, including AR(1) autocorrelation, was used to predict counts of AUDIT-C screening at ACCHSs.

Results: AUDIT-C screening was suppressed during state-wide and territory-wide lockdowns in 2020 (incident rate ratio [IRR] 0.42 [0.29, 0.61]). The effect of lockdowns differed by service remoteness. While there was a substantial reduction in AUDIT-C screening for urban and inner regional services (IRR 0.25 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.15, 0.42]), there was not a statistically significant change in screening at outer regional and remote (IRR 0.60 [95% CI 0.33, 1.09]) or very remote services (IRR 0.67 [95% CI 0.40, 1.11]).

Discussion and Conclusions: The COVID-19 lockdowns in Australia likely suppressed rates of screening for risky drinking in urban and inner regional regions. As harm from alcohol consumption may have increased during lockdowns, policymakers should consider implementing measures to enable screening for risky drinking to continue during future lockdowns.

KeywordsACCHSs; alcohol screening; AUDIT-C; COVID-19; pandemic; indigenous Australians
Year01 Jan 2023
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Journal citation42 (7), pp. 1633-1638
PublisherWiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd. (UK)
ISSN0959-5236
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/dar.13761
Web address (URL)https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dar.13761
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Research or scholarlyResearch
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Print22 Oct 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted27 Sep 2023
Deposited11 Mar 2024
ARC Funded ResearchThis output has been funded, wholly or partially, under the Australian Research Council Act 2001
Grant ID1105339
1117198
1117582
Additional information

National Health and Medical Research Council. Grant Numbers: 1105339, 1117198, 1117582

© 2023 The Authors. Drug and Alcohol Review published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
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