Is Heavy Alcohol Use Related to Chronic Health Conditions in Middle-aged Adults?




Hartos, Jessica
Castelo, Renata
Badillo, Andrew
Meyer, Joseph


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Abstract: Purpose: Previous research has studied the detrimental effects of heavy alcohol use on a person’s health, but little research has focused on its relationship with the number of health conditions that occur as a result. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between heavy alcohol use and number of chronic health conditions in middle-aged adults 35-54 years old. Methods: This cross-sectional analysis used 2015 BRFSS data for middle-aged adults 35-54 years old from Alaska, Maine, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Multiple logistic regression analysis assessed the relationship between alcohol use and the number of chronic health conditions while controlling for age, weight status, healthy eating, education level, healthcare access, income level, marital status, ethnicity/race, gender, and tobacco use. Results: Alcohol use was common with 33-40% of participants reporting as moderate drinkers, and 18-34% reporting as heavy drinkers. In addition, having multiple chronic health conditions was moderately prevalent with 35-47% of participants reporting having 2 or more. After controlling for social behaviors and demographic factors, heavy alcohol use was significantly and inversely related to the number of chronic health conditions in three out of four states (small to moderate effect sizes). Also, in three out of four or all four states income level was also inversely related (moderate to large effect sizes), while tobacco use, weight status, healthcare coverage, and older age were positively related to number of chronic health conditions (low to large effect sizes). Conclusion: Overall, current heavy alcohol use had a significant and inverse relationship to the number of chronic health conditions in general population samples of middle aged adults. It is recommended for practitioners to continue to follow standard screening protocols for alcohol use in a primary care setting for middle-aged adults. If the patient screens positive for heave alcohol use, then practitioners should screen for multiple chronic health conditions. Similarly, if a patient presents with multiple chronic health conditions, practitioners should screen for alcohol use.