Background Among older people, for any given year, intentional poisonings outnumber unintentional ones, but time trends differ by intent. This study assesses whether there are significant changes in the annual prevalence of poisoning by intent and socio-demographic groups.
Methods We conducted a national register- and population-based open cohort study of individuals born in 1965 or earlier, resident in Sweden during 2006–2016 and aged 50–100 years. Those individuals were followed up in population-based registers for their socio-demographic and health attributes during 2006–2017Annual incidences of hospitalization and death by poisoning intent (unintentional vs. intentional or undetermined; ICD-10 definitions) were compiled for the categories of four socio-demographic attributes (sex, marital status, age, and ‘babyboomer’).
Results The annual incidence of intentional poisonings consistently exceeded that of unintentional poisonings but there was a significant downward trend in intentional but not unintentional poisonings. This was replicated when considering separately men and women, married and unmarried people, the younger elder (but not the older ones), and the babyboomers and non-babyboomers. By far, the largest socio-demographic differences within intent were found for marital status (between married and unmarried people), and the smallest ones, for sex (between men and women).
Conclusion Among Swedish older people, while the incidence of intentional poisonings considerably exceeds that of unintentional ones over time, recent trends point to a significant reduction of intentional poisoning, consistent across a range of socio-demographic attributes.
Learning outcomes Poisoning among older adults deserve greater research and policy attention.