Using a Syndromic Surveillance System to Evaluate the Impact of a Change in Alcohol Law

Julia A. Dilley, Atar Baer, Jeff Duchin, Julie E. Maher


In 2011, Washington State voters passed an initiative which closed state liquor stores and opened private sector liquor sales. We examined trends in alcohol-related emergency department (ED) visits associated with this law change. Data were from the King County syndromic surveillance system. Alcohol-related ED visits were identified using chief complaint search strings and diagnosis codes. We used a linear regression model with a spline at the date of law change and controlled for other factors. Significant increases in alcohol-related ED visits were observed associated with the law change among minors (age <21) and adults ages 40 and older.

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Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *