Alcohol use disorder and divorce: evidence for a genetic correlation in a population-based Swedish sample

Addiction. 2017 Apr;112(4):586-593. doi: 10.1111/add.13719. Epub 2017 Feb 2.

Abstract

Aims: We tested the association between alcohol use disorder (AUD) and divorce; estimated the genetic and environmental influences on divorce; estimated how much genetic and environmental influences accounted for covariance between AUD and divorce; and estimated latent genetic and environmental correlations between AUD and divorce. We tested sex differences in these effects.

Design: We identified twin and sibling pairs with AUD and divorce information in Swedish national registers. We described the association between AUD and divorce using tetrachorics and used twin and sibling models to estimate genetic and environmental influences on divorce, on the covariance between AUD and divorce and the latent genetic and environmental correlations between AUD and divorce.

Setting: Sweden.

Participants: A total of 670 836 individuals (53% male) born 1940-1965.

Measurements: Life-time measures of AUD and divorce.

Findings: AUD and divorce were related strongly (males: rtet = +0.44, 95% CI = 0.43, 0.45; females rtet = +0.37, 95% CI = 0.36, 0.38). Genetic factors accounted for a modest proportion of the variance in divorce (males: 21.3%, 95% CI = 7.6, 28.5; females: 31.0%, 95% CI = 18.8, 37.1). Genetic factors accounted for most of the covariance between AUD and divorce (males: 52.0%, 95% CI = 48.8, 67.9; females: 53.74%, 95% CI = 17.6, 54.5), followed by non-shared environmental factors (males: 45.0%, 95% CI = 37.5, 54.9; females: 41.6%, 95% CI = 40.3, 60.2). Shared environmental factors accounted for a negligible proportion of the covariance (males: 3.0%, 95% CI = -3.0, 13.5; females: 4.75%, 95% CI = 0.0, 6.6). The AUD-divorce genetic correlations were high (males: rA = +0.76, 95% CI = 0.53, 0.90; females +0.52, 95% CI = 0.24, 0.67). The non-shared environmental correlations were modest (males: rE = +0.32, 95% CI = 0.31, 0.40; females: +0.27, 95% CI = 0.27, 0.36).

Conclusions: Divorce and alcohol use disorder are correlated strongly in the Swedish population, and the heritability of divorce is consistent with previous studies. Covariation between AUD and divorce results from overlapping genetic and non-shared environmental factors. Latent genetic and non-shared environmental correlations for alcohol use disorder and divorce are high and moderate.

Keywords: Alcohol use disorder; divorce; genetic correlation; heritability; nonshared environmental correlation; twin modeling.

Publication types

  • Twin Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Divorce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environment
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Registries*
  • Risk Factors
  • Siblings
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Twins, Dizygotic / genetics
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics