Objective: An epidemiological survey was conducted to estimate the rates and the correlates of alcohol use disorders among the elderly in a Korean urban area.
Design: This was a cross-sectional community study. A 2 stage, random cluster sampling method was used to select the subjects. 853 community residents aged 65 years and over were interviewed with the alcohol module of the Korean version of Composite International Diagnostic Instrument (K-CIDI). The response rate was 57.5%.
Materials and Methods: During the survey, 10 trained interviewers performed door-to-door visits and administered the K-CIDI to generate DSM-IV diagnoses for alcohol use disorders (abuse and dependence), depressive disorders (major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder), and nicotine dependence.
Results: Age-sex adjusted lifetime prevalence of alcohol use disorders was 13.43% (men: 29.16%, women: 3.05%), and 1-year prevalence rate was 4.37% (men: 9.23%, women: 1.16%). Men had much higher prevalence rates of alcohol use disorders than women, and there was a decrease in 1-year prevalence rates of alcohol use disorders with increasing age. 3 statistically significant risk factors of alcohol use disorders were identified: male, family history of problem drinking, and smoking under 30 pack years. Among the elderly with alcohol use disorders, 45.7% had nicotine dependence and 6.5% had depressive disorders diagnosed by K-CIDI. Among the elderly with alcohol use disorders in lifetime, 57.4% were early onset group (onset before age 39) and 43.4% were late onset group (onset after 40). Age of onset was determined as the earliest age at which alcohol use disorders were diagnosed. Compared to early onset group, late onset group had a statistically significantly greater proportion of women (early onset; 5.0%, late onset; 20.4%). But except for gender, there was no significant difference between the 2 groups with regard to education, age distribution, family history of alcoholism, socioeconomic status, marital status, comorbid psychiatric diagnoses like depressive disorders, or nicotine dependence.
Conclusion: Alcohol use disorders are very common among the elderly in a Korean urban area. These results should be interpreted in view of the cultural differences about alcohol drinking, and further longitudinal studies for elderly cohorts will help to determine the relevance of the cohort effect.
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