Individual- and area-level characteristics associated with alcohol-related mortality among adult Lithuanian males: a multilevel analysis based on census-linked data
PLoS One, 12:7, e0181622 (2017)
Background: Although excessive alcohol-related mortality in the post-Soviet countries remains the major public health threat, determinants of this phenomenon are still poorly understood.
Aims: We assess simultaneously individual- and area-level factors associated with an elevated risk of alcohol-related mortality among Lithuanian males aged 30–64.
Methods: Our analysis is based on a census-linked dataset containing information on individual- and area-level characteristics and death events which occurred between March 1st, 2011 and December 31st, 2013. We limit the analysis to a few causes of death which are directly linked to excessive alcohol consumption: accidental poisonings by alcohol (X45) and liver cirrhosis (K70 and K74). Multilevel Poisson regression models with random intercepts are applied to estimate mortality rate ratios (MRR).
Results: The selected individual-level characteristics are important predictors of alcohol-related mortality, whereas area-level variables show much less pronounced or insignificant effects. Compared to married men, never married (MRR = 1.9, CI:1.6–2.2), divorced (MRR = 2.6, CI:2.3–2.9), and widowed (MRR = 2.4, CI: 1.8–3.1) men are disadvantaged groups. Men who have the lowest level of educational attainment have the highest mortality risk (MRR = 1.7 CI:1.4–2.1). Being unemployed is associated with a five-fold risk of alcohol-related death (MRR = 5.1, CI: 4.4–5.9), even after adjusting for all other individual variables. Lithuanian males have an advantage over Russian (MRR = 1.3, CI:1.1–1.6) and Polish (MRR = 1.8, CI: 1.5–2.2) males. After adjusting for all individual characteristics, only two out of seven area-level variables—i.e., the share of ethnic minorities in the population and the election turnout—have statistically significant direct associations. These variables contribute to a higher risk of alcohol-related mortality at the individual level.
Conclusions: The huge and increasing socio-economic disparities in alcohol-related mortality indicate that recently implemented anti-alcohol measures in Lithuania should be reinforced by specific measures targeting the most disadvantaged population groups and geographical areas.
Keywords: Lithuania, adult mortality