Severity of alcohol-related problems and mortality: results from a 20-year prospective epidemiological community study
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- Fichter, M.M., Quadflieg, N. & Fischer, U.C. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci (2011) 261: 293. doi:10.1007/s00406-010-0141-y
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There is evidence that high alcohol use is associated with an increase in mortality. Little is known about long-term effects of problematic alcohol consumption in non-clinical (community) populations. The aim of our study was to obtain data on this and related issues in a representative rural community sample assessed longitudinally over a period of 20 years. Assessments focused on a baseline survey from 1980 to 1984 and 20-year follow-up from 2001 to 2004. Based on expert interviews and standardized self-rating scales (e.g. MALT; Munich Alcoholism Test), the following three groups were defined (a) severealcohol problems, (b) moderate alcohol problems, and (c) no alcohol problems. Mortality and hazard rates were analyzed with logistic and Cox regression adjusted for several health risk factors. From an original community sample of 1,465 individuals, 448 were deceased at 20-year follow-up. Participation rates were high. Baseline prevalence according to the MALT was 1.6% for severealcohol problems and 4.0% for moderate alcohol problems. Over the 20-year time span, individuals with severealcohol problems had a significantly elevated risk for dying earlier than the group with no alcohol problems (2.4 times higher). Mortality for those with moderate alcohol problems at baseline had a non-significantly elevated 20-year mortality risk (1.5 times higher) compared to those with no alcohol problems. Cox survival analyses corroborate these findings from multiple sequential logistic regression analyses. In discussing the mortality risk of persons with alcohol problems, the severity of the alcohol problems must be taken into account.