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Monday, February 13, 2012

Alcohol Use and Health-Related Quality of Life among Hospital Outpatients in South Africa

This study examined the association of alcohol use and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in a clinic population in South Africa.

A probability sample of 1532 (56.4% men and women 43.6%) patients from different hospital outpatient departments completed the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test and the social functioning (SF)-12 Health Survey. Physical and Mental Health Component Summaries and primary scales of the SF-12 were used as measures of HRQOL.

The study did not find a significant association between alcohol-use disorders and HRQoL [Physical Component Summary (PCS) and Mental health Component Summary (MCS)] in this clinic population. However, probable alcohol dependence was associated with poorer quality of life in three areas of functioning measured by the SF-12 (physical functioning, general health and mental health) compared with patients not meeting the criteria of alcohol dependence. The magnitude of the decrement in the PCS and MCS for daily or almost daily tobacco use, severe psychological distress and the number of other chronic conditions was significantly greater than for alcohol abuse or dependence.

It appears that hospital outpatients in this study did not experience a diminished quality of life related to their alcohol use compared with other attenders at these clinics. Also, intervention studies with hazardous drinkers may not be able to identify treatment-related changes in global HRQoL.

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