Objective: A 14-year multiwave panel design was used to examine relationships between longitudinal alcohol-consumption patterns, especially persistent moderate use, and change in health-related quality of life among middle-aged and older adults.
Method: A nationally representative sample of 5,404 community-dwelling Canadians ages 50 and older at baseline (1994/1995) was obtained from the longitudinal National Population Health Survey. Alcohol-consumption patterns were developed based on the quantity and frequency of use in the 12 months before the interview. Health-related quality of life was assessed with the Health Utilities Index Mark 3 (HUI3). Latent growth curve modeling was used to estimate the change in HUI3 for each alcohol pattern after adjusting for covariates measured at baseline.
Results: Most participants showed stable alcohol-consumption patterns over 6 years. Persistent non-users, persistent former users, those decreasing their consumption levels, and those with unstable patterns (i.e., U shaped and inverted U shaped) had lower HUI3 scores at baseline compared with persistent moderate drinkers. A more rapid decline in HUI3 scores than that observed for persistent moderate users was seen only in those with decreasing consumption (p < .001). In a subgroup identified as consistently healthy before follow-up, longitudinal drinking patterns were associated with initial HUI3 scores but not rates of change.
Conclusions: Persistent moderate drinkers had higher initial levels of health-related quality of life than persistent nonusers, persistent former users, decreasing users, U-shaped users, and inverted U-shaped users. However, rates of decline over time were similar for all groups except those decreasing their consumption, who had a greater decline in their level of health-related quality of life than persistent moderate users.