Background and aims: There have been few systematic attempts to examine how alcohol-related mortality has changed in Australia, and no studies that have explored cohort effects in alcohol-related mortality. This study uses more than 50 years of data to measure age, period and cohort trends in alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) mortality.
Design, setting and cases: This was a retrospective age-period-cohort analysis of total Australian ALD mortality data from 1968 to 2020 in Australia. There was a total of 35 822 deaths-27 208 men (76%) and 8614 women (24%).
Measurements: Deaths from ALD were grouped into 5-year age groups and periods (e.g. deaths for 20-24-year-olds between 1968 and 1972 were combined).
Findings: ALD mortality peaked in the late 1970s and early 1980s for both men and women. In age-period-cohort models, mortality was highest for cohorts born 1915-30. For example, men born between 1923 and 1927 had a relative risk of 1.58 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.52, 1.64] compared with men born between 1948 and 1952. For women, there was an increase in risk for cohorts born in the 1960s [e.g. the 1963-67 cohort had a relative risk (RR) of 1.16 (95% CI = 1.07, 1.25) compared with women born in 1948-52]. For men, there was a broad decline in mortality over time [e.g. in 2020, the RR was 0.87 (95% CI = 0.82, 0.92) compared with the reference year of 2000]. For women, mortality declined until 2000 and has been stable since.
Conclusions: Alcohol-related liver disease mortality has declined across the Australian population since the 1970s and 1980s partly due to cohort-specific shifts as the highest-risk birth cohorts age. For women, this decline had stalled by the year 2000, and cohorts of women born during the 1960s were at higher risk than earlier cohorts, suggesting the need for thoughtful interventions as this population enters its highest-risk years for ALD mortality.
Keywords: Australia; age-period-cohort; alcohol; liver disease; mortality; trends.