Objectives: To identify predictors of alcohol-related patient-physician discussions.
Design: Cross-sectional study using baseline data from a randomized controlled trial.
Setting: Community-based group practice.
Participants: Thirty-one physicians in Project Senior Health and Alcohol Risk Education and 3,305 of their patients aged 60 and older who use alcohol and completed a survey that included the Comorbidity Alcohol Risk Evaluation Tool (CARET).
Measurements: At study baseline, older adults were asked whether alcohol-related discussions with a physician had occurred in the prior year. This outcome was modeled using logistic regression models with physician random effects. Predictor variables included patient-level variables such as demographics and seven CARET-defined risk factors, specifically a medical or psychiatric comorbidity that alcohol might worsen, a potentially alcohol-related symptom, use of a medication that may interact negatively with alcohol, excessive quantity or frequency of alcohol use, binge drinking, concern from others about drinking, and drinking and driving. Physician-level predictors (age, sex, years since graduation, specialty) were also included.
Results: The probability of reporting alcohol-related discussions declined with patient age (e.g., odds ratio (OR)=0.40 for patients aged ≥80) and was significantly lower for Latinos (OR=0.38). Drinking and driving (OR=1.69) or concern from others (OR=6.04) were significantly associated with alcohol-related discussions; having comorbidities or using medications that may interact with alcohol were not.
Conclusion: Although patient demographics, including age and ethnicity, are associated with the occurrence of alcohol-related discussions, clinical factors that may negatively interact with alcohol to increase risk are not. This suggests that physicians may not be attuned to the entire spectrum of alcohol-related risks for older adults.
© 2010, Copyright the Authors. Journal compilation © 2010, The American Geriatrics Society.