Problem Drinking and Depression in Older Adults with Multiple Chronic Health Conditions

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Jan;65(1):146-152. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14479. Epub 2016 Oct 17.


Objectives: To examine the intersection of depression and alcohol use among older adults with multiple chronic health conditions (MCCs).

Design: Wave 1 data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (2005-06).

Setting: Community-based sampling throughout the United States.

Participants: Individuals aged 57 to 85 who identified as active alcohol consumers (N = 1,643).

Measurements: Participants reported whether they currently had MCCs, problem drinking (defined as affirming two or more of the four CAGE screening questions), symptoms associated with depression, and other social and health measures.

Results: Although older adults with MCCs were no more likely to be problem drinkers than those with no MCCs, those with MCCs and depression were nearly five times as likely to experience problem drinking as older adults with MCCs and no depression.

Conclusion: Older adults with MCCs have differences that have implications for health, including mental health problems. Implementing screening and assessment in medical care settings for problem drinking and improving self-management interventions to include consequences of alcohol use components are critical avenues for reducing healthcare expenditures and improving quality of life of individuals with MCC.

Keywords: MCC; alcohol; depression; problem drinking.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Chronic Conditions / epidemiology*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology