Prevalence of alcohol problems among elderly patients in a university hospital

Addiction. 2000 Jan;95(1):107-13. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2000.95110711.x.


Aims: To assess the prevalence of alcohol abuse and the prevalence of alcohol-related discharge diagnosis in an elderly general hospital population.

Design: On a randomly selected day, all patients aged 65 years and over admitted to a university hospital were screened.

Setting: University Hospital of Amiens, France.

Participants: All patients aged 65 years and over were approached and requested to take part in the study. They were interviewed using the CAGE questionnaire and with a structured questionnaire regarding life-style, and asked about their usual daily alcohol consumption. The medical history of each patient was taken. In total, 612 patients fulfilled the age criteria, but 205 patients (33.6%) had to be excluded owing to predefined exclusion criteria (e.g. dementia, aphasia, terminal illness ...) and 37 patients (6%) refused to participate.

Findings: The data were derived from 370 patients. The median age was 79 years; 54% reported no alcohol consumption; 9% of patients scored positive on the CAGE questionnaire. The prevalence of patients with a CAGE questionnaire positive was significantly higher among male patients (17%) than female patients (2.5%). The prevalence of patients with alcohol-related discharge diagnosis was 7%. The frequency of higher socio-economic status or divorced status increased significantly with alcohol consumption.

Conclusions: There may be a substantial prevalence of alcohol problems in elderly hospital patients. Research is needed to examine how generalized this problem is.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors