Alcohol misuse, gender and depressive symptoms in community-dwelling seniors

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2009 Apr;24(4):369-75. doi: 10.1002/gps.2131.


Objectives: Alcohol misuse in seniors has been studied in clinical samples and in small communities, but relatively few studies are population-based. Objectives are: (1) to describe the characteristics of seniors who score 1 or more on the CAGE (Cut down; Annoyed; Guilty; Eye-opener) questionnaire of alcohol problems; (2) to determine if depressive symptoms are associated with alcohol misuse after accounting for other factors.

Methods: Cross-sectional study of community-dwelling older people (65+ years) sampled from a representative population registry in Manitoba, Canada. Participants were initially interviewed in 1991-1992 and reinterviewed in 1996-1997. Data from Time 2 were used; 1,028 persons were included in the analyses. Sociodemographic characteristics, the CAGE questionnaire, Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and instrumental ADLs (IADLs), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) scale and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) were assessed by trained interviewers.

Results: Males were more likely to score positive on the CAGE questionnaire. After adjusting for gender, age, and education, there was a strong association between depressive symptoms and alcohol misuse. Poor self-rated health and impairments in IADLs were also associated with alcohol misuse.

Conclusions: Male gender, depressive symptoms, and poor functional status were associated with alcohol misuse in this population-based study. Attention to depressive symptoms and functional status may be important in the care of seniors with alcohol misuse. Alternatively, physicians should enquire about alcohol use in seniors with functional impairment or depressive symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manitoba / epidemiology
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires