Problem drinking among patients attending primary healthcare units in Kampala, Uganda

Afr J Psychiatry (Johannesbg). 2009 Feb;12(1):52-8. doi: 10.4314/ajpsy.v12i1.30279.


Objective: Previous studies have shown that a large a number of primary health care patients have alcohol related problems and very few are detected and treated. Few studies have been done in developing countries on this topic. This study sought to determine the prevalence and detection of alcohol related problems in a Primary Health Care setting (PHC). in Kampala Uganda.

Method: 768 consecutive PHC patients in two PHC centers in Kampala, Uganda, were screened in a two stage procedure. After being asked if they drink alcohol they were interviewed by means of the CAGE questionnaire and a quantity/frequency questionnaire. Those who scored positive on the CAGE were further diagnosed for alcohol dependence using the DSM- IV diagnostic criteria.

Results: Of all patients, 17.4% scored above cut-off on the CAGE, 28.5% had a high risk drinking pattern and 9.5% had alcohol dependence. Among drinkers, drinking beyond safe limit was more common among men. Males and those aged between 35 to 44 years, were more likely to be CAGE positive and to be diagnosed with alcohol dependence. Only 27 out of 366 drinkers were asked about alcohol by the PHC professional. Males and high risk drinkers were more likely to be asked.

Conclusion: Prevalence of alcohol problems was high and detection rate of alcohol related problems was low in this Ugandan setting. Training of PHC professionals in diagnosing and treating alcohol related problems is required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Developing Countries*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / standards
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Uganda
  • Young Adult