Irish in Scotland more at risk of alcohol-related disease and death, says study

Woman's hand holding pint of stout Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The study on alcohol-related diseases took data from the NHS and the 2001 Census

Irish people living in Scotland are more than twice as likely to end up in hospital or die from alcohol-related diseases as white Scots, a study found.

Researchers at Edinburgh University looked at ethnic variations in rates of hospital admission and death as a result of alcohol use.

They said the risk for women of mixed ethnicity was almost double the risk of white Scottish people.

The lowest risks were among those from Chinese or Pakistani background.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.

The work by researchers is believed to be the first to use a reliable measure of ethnicity, taking data from the NHS and the 2001 Census, and using the rate of disease in the white Scottish population - Scotland's largest ethnic group - as the benchmark.

The findings suggested that compared with rates for white Scottish people, the risks of alcohol-related disease hospitalisations or deaths for Irish people living in Scotland increased by 82% for men and 55% for women.

Risk of alcohol-related disease and death

Ethnic variations


higher for Irish men in Scotland

  • 55% higher for Irish women

  • Almost double for women of mixed ethnicity

  • 45% and 33% lower for men and women of Chinese or Pakistani background


Compared to white Scots, women of mixed ethnicity were 99% more likely to require hospital stays or die from drink-related disease.

For Chinese populations across Scotland, the likelihood of being hospitalised or dying from alcohol-related disease decreased by about 45% compared to the white Scots and for Pakistani population the risk dropped by 33% for men and 52% for women. However, these groups were at greater risk of other liver diseases such as viral hepatitis.

Dr Neeraj Bhala, who conducted the study at the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Population Health Sciences, said: "The ethnic variation in the alcohol and liver-related hospitalisations and deaths in Scotland found in this large-scale study is a cause for concern.

"We have important lessons to learn about preventing these alcohol and liver-related deaths, and we should look to communities with typically low levels of alcohol consumption to help develop policies that benefit the whole population of Scotland."

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