Skip to main content

The association of alcohol use and quality of life in depressed and non-depressed individuals: a cross-sectional general population study



To compare the associations of alcohol-related variables with Quality of Life (QoL) in depressed and non-depressed individuals of the general population.


This cross-sectional study utilized data from the FINRISK 2007 general population survey. A subsample (n = 4020) was invited to participate in an interview concerning alcohol use. Of them, 2215 (1028 men, 1187 women; response rate 55.1%) were included in the analyses. Bivariate associations between mean weekly alcohol consumption, frequency of binge drinking, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)-score and QoL were analysed according to categorization into depressed and non-depressed using the Beck Depression Inventory, Short Form. Linear regression models were calculated in order to determine the associations of the alcohol variables and QoL after adjusting for socio-demographic variables as well as somatic and mental illness.


Depressed individuals had lower mean QoL and higher AUDIT-scores than non-depressed respondents. Bivariate correlations showed that mean weekly alcohol consumption, frequency of binge drinking and AUDIT-scores were statistically significantly associated with impaired QoL in depressed individuals. Abstinence was not associated with QoL. After adjustment for covariates, frequency of binge drinking and AUDIT-score were statistically significantly associated with QoL in depressed individuals and AUDIT-score in the non-depressed group. When analysing all respondents regardless of depression, both AUDIT-score and binge drinking were associated with QoL.


Of the alcohol-related variables, binge drinking and alcohol problems indicated by AUDIT-score contributed to impaired QoL in depressed individuals and both should be assessed as part of the clinical management of depression.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Aalto, M., Alho, H., Halme, J. T., & Seppa, K. (2009). AUDIT and its abbreviated versions in detecting heavy and binge drinking in a general population survey. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 103, 25–29.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Angermeyer, M. C., Holzinger, A., Matschinger, H., & Stengler-Wenzke, K. (2002). Depression and quality of life: Results of a follow-up study. The International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 48, 189–199.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Beck, A. T., & Beck, R. W. (1972). Screening depressed patients in family practice. A rapid technic. Postgraduate Medicine, 52, 81–85.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Beck, A. T., Rial, W. Y., & Rickels, K. (1974). Short form of depression inventory: Cross-validation. Psychological Reports, 34, 1184–1186.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Berlim, M. T., McGirr, A., & Fleck, M. P. (2008). Can sociodemographic and clinical variables predict the quality of life of outpatients with major depression? Psychiatry Research, 160, 364–371.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Daeppen, J. B., Faouzi, M., Sanchez, N., Rahhali, N., Bineau, S., & Bertholet, N. (2014). Quality of life depends on the drinking pattern in alcohol-dependent patients. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 49, 457–465.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. de Boer, A. G., van Lanschot, J. J., Stalmeier, P. F., van Sandick, J. W., Hulscher, J. B., de Haes, J. C., & Sprangers, M. A. (2004). Is a single-item visual analogue scale as valid, reliable and responsive as multi-item scales in measuring quality of life? Quality of Life Research: An International Journal of Quality of Life Aspects of Treatment, Care and Rehabilitation, 13, 311–320.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Donovan, D., Mattson, M. E., Cisler, R. A., Longabaugh, R., & Zweben, A. (2005) Quality of life as an outcome measure in alcoholism treatment research. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Supplement 15, 119–139 (discussion 92–3).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Evans, S., & Huxley, P. (2002). Studies of quality of life in the general population. International Review of Psychiatry, 14, 203–211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Foster, J. H., Powell, J. E., Marshall, E. J., & Peters, T. J. (1999). Quality of life in alcohol-dependent subjects—A review. Quality of Life Research: An International Journal of Quality of Life Aspects of Treatment, Care and Rehabilitation, 8, 255–261.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. IsHak, W. W., Greenberg, J. M., Balayan, K., Kapitanski, N., Jeffrey, J., Fathy, H., Fakhry, H., & Rapaport, M. H. (2011). Quality of life: The ultimate outcome measure of interventions in major depressive disorder. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 19, 229–239.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Kuehner, C., & Huffziger, S. (2009). Subjective quality of life aspects predict depressive symptoms over time: Results from a three-wave longitudinal study. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 120, 496–499.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Layard, R., Clark, A. E., Cornaglia, F., Powdthavee, N., & Vernoit, J. (2014). What predicts a successful life? A life-course model of Well-being. Economic Journal, 124, F720–F738.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Levola, J., Aalto, M., Holopainen, A., Cieza, A., & Pitkanen, T. (2014). Health-related quality of life in alcohol dependence: A systematic literature review with a specific focus on the role of depression and other psychopathology. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 68, 369–384.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Levola, J., Holopainen, A., & Aalto, M. (2011). Depression and heavy drinking occasions: A cross-sectional general population study. Addictive Behaviors, 36, 375–380.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Levola, J., Kaskela, T., Holopainen, A., Sabariego, C., Tourunen, J., Cieza, A., & Pitkanen, T. (2014). Psychosocial difficulties in alcohol dependence: A systematic review of activity limitations and participation restrictions. Disability and Rehabilitation, 36, 1227–1239.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Linzer, M., Spitzer, R., Kroenke, K., Williams, J. B., Hahn, S., Brody, D., & deGruy, F. (1996). Gender, quality of life, and mental disorders in primary care: Results from the PRIME-MD 1000 study. The American Journal of Medicine, 101, 526–533.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Luquiens, A., Falissard, B., & Aubin, H. J. (2016). Students worry about the impact of alcohol on quality of life: Roles of frequency of binge drinking and drinker self-concept. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 167, 42–48.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Markkula, N., Harkanen, T., Nieminen, T., Pena, S., Mattila, A. K., Koskinen, S., Saarni, S. I., & Suvisaari, J (2016). Prognosis of depressive disorders in the general population-results from the longitudinal Finnish Health 2011 Study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 190, 687–696.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Merikangas, K. R., Mehta, R. L., Molnar, B. E., Walters, E. E., Swendsen, J. D., Aguilar-Gaziola, S., Bijl, R., Borges, G., Caraveo-Anduaga, J. J., DeWit, D. J., Kolody, B., Vega, W. A., Wittchen, H. U., & Kessler, R. C. (1998). Comorbidity of substance use disorders with mood and anxiety disorders: Results of the international consortium in psychiatric epidemiology. Addictive Behaviors, 23, 893–907.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Mohamed, S., & Ajmal, M. (2015). Multivariate analysis of binge drinking in young adult population: Data analysis of the 2007 survey of lifestyle, Attitude and Nutrition in Ireland. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 69, 483–488.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Monahan, C. J., Bracken-Minor, K. L., McCausland, C. M., McDevitt-Murphy, M. E., & Murphy, J. G. (2012). Health-related quality of life among heavy-drinking college students. American Journal of Health Behavior, 36, 289–299.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Okoro, C. A., Brewer, R. D., Naimi, T. S., Moriarty, D. G., Giles, W. H., & Mokdad, A. H. (2004). Binge drinking and health-related quality of life: Do popular perceptions match reality? American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 26, 230–233.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Papakostas, G. I., Petersen, T., Mahal, Y., Mischoulon, D., Nierenberg, A. A., & Fava, M. (2004). Quality of life assessments in major depressive disorder: A review of the literature. General Hospital Psychiatry, 26, 13–17.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Paul, L. A., Grubaugh, A. L., Frueh, B. C., Ellis, C., & Egede, L. E. (2011). Associations between binge and heavy drinking and health behaviors in a nationally representative sample. Addictive Behaviors, 36, 1240–1245.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  26. Peltonen, M., Harald, K., Männistö, S., Saarikoski, L., Peltomäki, P., Lund, L., Sundvall, J., Juolevi, A., Laatikainen, T., Aldén-Nieminen, H., Luoto, R., Jousilahti, P., Salomaa, V., Taimi, M., & Vartiainen, E. (2008) The National FINRISK 2007 Study. Implementation and Results. Publications of the National Public Health Institute [Kansanterveyslaitoksen julkaisuja] B34.

  27. Pirkola, S. P., Isometsa, E., Suvisaari, J., Aro, H., Joukamaa, M., Poikolainen, K., Koskinen, S., Aromaa, A., & Lonnqvist, J. K. (2005). DSM-IV mood-, anxiety- and alcohol use disorders and their comorbidity in the Finnish general population–results from the Health 2000 Study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 40, 1–10.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Pitkänen, T., Levola, J., Tourunen, J., Kaskela, T., & Holopainen, A. (2016) Aivotoiminnan häiriöiden yhteydessä yleisesti koetut psykososiaaliset vaikeudet. PARADISE24-kyselyn tutkimusperusta

  29. Reinert, D. F., & Allen, J. P. (2007). The alcohol use disorders identification test: An update of research findings. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 31, 185–199.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Saarni, S. I., Joutsenniemi, K., Koskinen, S., Suvisaari, J., Pirkola, S., Sintonen, H., Poikolainen, K., & Lonnqvist, J. (2008). Alcohol consumption, abstaining, health utility, and quality of life—A general population survey in Finland. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 43, 376–386.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Saunders, J. B., Aasland, O. G., Babor, T. F., de la Fuente, J. R., & Grant, M. (1993). Development of the alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT): WHO collaborative project on early detection of persons with harmful alcohol consumption–II. Addiction, 88, 791–804.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Sobell, L. C., Sobell, M. B., Leo, G. I., & Cancilla, A. (1988). Reliability of a timeline method: Assessing normal drinkers’ reports of recent drinking and a comparative evaluation across several populations. British Journal of Addiction, 83, 393–402.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Subramaniam, M., Abdin, E., Vaingankar, J. A., Nan, L., Heng, D., McCrone, P., & Chong, S. A. (2013). Impact of psychiatric disorders and chronic physical conditions on health-related quality of life: Singapore Mental Health Study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 147, 325–330.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Sullivan, L. E., Fiellin, D. A., & O’Connor, P. G. (2005). The prevalence and impact of alcohol problems in major depression: A systematic review. The American Journal of Medicine, 118, 330–341.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. The World Health Organization (2008) The Global Burden of Disease 2004 update.

  36. The World Health Organization (1995) The World Health Organization Quality of Life assessment (WHOQOL): Position paper from the World Health Organization. Social Science & Medicine, 41, 1403–1409.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Vakili, S., Sobell, L. C., Sobell, M. B., Simco, E. R., & Agrawal, S. (2008). Using the timeline followback to determine time windows representative of annual alcohol consumption with problem drinkers. Addictive Behaviors, 33, 1123–1130.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Volk, R. J., Cantor, S. B., Steinbauer, J. R., & Cass, A. R. (1997). Alcohol use disorders, consumption patterns, and health-related quality of life of primary care patients. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 21, 899–905.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Wen, X. J., Kanny, D., Thompson, W. W., Okoro, C. A., Town, M., & Balluz, L. S. (2012). Binge drinking intensity and health-related quality of life among US adult binge drinkers. Preventing Chronic Disease, 9, E86.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  40. Working group appointed by the Finnish Medical Society Duodecim and the Finnish Society of Addiction Medicine. (2015) Treatment of alcohol abuse. Current Care Guidelines. (Referred December 16, 2016).

Download references


The funding was provided by the Finnish Psychiatric Association and the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jonna Levola.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Levola, J., Pitkänen, T., Kampman, O. et al. The association of alcohol use and quality of life in depressed and non-depressed individuals: a cross-sectional general population study. Qual Life Res 27, 1217–1226 (2018).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Binge drinking
  • Depression
  • Quality of life
  • Heavy drinking
  • Alcohol problems