RESEARCH – February 2016

Alcohol consumption among the patients of primary health care: factors associated with hazardous and harmful drinking habits

Authors: Kaja Põlluste, Veera Dudanova, Anne Kaldoja, Helve Kansi, Liina Kask, Ivika Oja, Piret Tammist, Margus Lember

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Aim. To explain the associations between hazardous alcohol consumption, health related quality of life, health status and patient’s background factors.

Methods. 840 consecutive patients from six family practices were involved. Each patient completed a questionnaire including patient ’s socio-demographic data and smoking status. The level of alcohol consumption was identified by using the AUDIT questionnaire, the health-related quality of life (QoL) was assessed by SF-36. Patient’s individual body weight, height and waist circumference were assessed by the physician or practice nurse. Information about risk factors and chronic conditions was collected from the patients’ records. The associations between these characteristics and hazardous alcohol consumption were calculated using logistic regression.

Results. Hazardous drinking (AUDIT score ≥ 8) was found in 15.5% of the patients. It was strongly associated with male gender, younger age (18–44 years), lower level of education, smoking and lower body mass index (BMI). The self-reported QoL was not associated with the AUDIT score.

Conclusion. The l ist of recommended groups of patients for the screening could be upgraded: the male patients aged 18–44 should be routinely screened concerning the alcohol misuse; also, the screening of all smokers would be reasonable to prevent the alcohol related harm.