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Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is associated with a high prevalence rate and causes a significant burden on health systems globally. The most severe condition associated with AUD is end-stage alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD), for which liver transplantation (LTX) is the only curative therapy. However, the determination of key epidemiologic figures of both conditions is limited by several difficulties and challenges. Therefore, the goal of this paper is to discuss different epidemiological models to estimate AUD and ARLD prevalence, and compare the results of these models with LTX data.
A literature search for epidemiological models estimating the prevalence of AUD and associated secondary diseases was conducted. Identified approaches are discussed and recalculated, applying the newest available data for Austria. The thus estimated numbers were, in a further step, set in relation to the national LTX statistics.
Besides health survey-based estimations and models based on economic data, estimations based on the mortality of ARLD (Jellinek formula) were identified. Depending on the prediction scenario, the calculated rates of prevalence of AUD ranged between 4.1% and 10.1% for the population aged older than 15 years. Furthermore, while the prevalence of secondary diseases due to AUD is high, only a marginal proportion (about 4%) of end-stage ARLD patients receive a new organ.
These results suggest that the prevalence of AUD and associated diseases remain underestimated. Furthermore, a pronounced discrepancy between the number of ARLD deaths and the number of LTXs due to ARLD, and distinct regional differences in the supply of LTXs, were found.