The Department of Health have published what they say will be the first in a series of reports into the core health behaviours of target groups for their social marketing strategy.
As you’d expect I’ll focus on what it has to say about the younger people and particularly the group of 11-17 year olds. But there’s also data on adults and on pregnant women and mothers of under 2 year olds. Again it won’t be a surprise that the core health behaviours that I’ll pay attention to are around drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Continue reading
The master of global public health data visualisation, Hans Rosling, is one of the people I follow on Twitter.
Today he pointed to a tool developed on the website for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation which looks at the causes and risks of amongst other things death and years of life lost.
As you might expect the data is at a regional level, but you can break it down by age group. So I’ve been looking at what it has to say about teens in Western Europe.
What I take is that the drug and alcohol use remain amongst the highest risks for death for young people in the region. Continue reading
We know that drug use is coming down. It’s confirmed again by the NHS in their annual report, Statistics on Drug Misuse: England, 2012. That’s not news – all the prevalence data that is being reported is from the surveys that were published in July this year.
What is new is what hospitals are reporting about people who come to them with drug problems.
And now we know that the numbers of young people reported as needing hospital attention because of drugs is on the rise and is now higher than it has been than at any time in the last decade.
You’ll see this is true of under 16s as well as older young adults.
The report itself offers some explanation for these rises:
It should be noted that comparisons over time using primary and secondary diagnosis codes are complicated by changes in recording practices over the period. All hospital episodes have a primary diagnosis, but the number of secondary diagnoses used depends on the circumstance. At a national level there has been an increase in the coding of secondary conditions. It is likely that increases in secondary diagnoses are at least partly due to improvements in diagnosis and improvements in recording which will need to be taken into consideration when looking at this time series.
The Guardian’s Data Blog has taken a look at the Drug Misuse Declared data and makes the observation:
The most common age for first taking either powder cocaine, ecstasy or cannabis was between 16 and 18 years old. The most common age for cannabis was 16 years old whilst for powder cocaine and ecstasy it was 18 years old. The report also found a wide variation for age of first drug use from as young as seven up to 57 years old.
The raw data for this is available here. One of the things you notice if you dig into it is that there is quite a difference between when older people who have used drugs remember first using and what those under 35 said. It is also worth noting that the youngest age group – 16 to 19 year olds – will inevitably have started earlier.