The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of alcohol use and associated factors among outpatients in an urban hospital in South Africa. The sample included 1,532 (56.4% men and women 43.6%) consecutively selected patients from different hospital outpatient departments. Results indicate that 41.2% of men and 18.3% of women were found to be hazardous drinkers, and 3.6% of men and 1.4% of women meet criteria for probable alcohol dependence or harmful drinking as defined by the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT). Two in five patients (40.5%) were hazardous or harmful drinkers and/or had anxiety or depression. Logistic multiple regression found that for men tobacco use and not having been diagnosed with diabetes and for women tobacco use and having been diagnosed with migraine headache was associated with hazardous and harmful drinking. Although the study is cross-sectional, it does identify groups that may be at high risk of alcohol misuse and for whom intervention is urgent. Because prevalence of hazardous and harmful alcohol use is high in this population, routine screening should be introduced in hospital out-patient settings.
Keywords: South Africa; alcohol misuse; associated factors; hospital out-patients; tobacco use.