Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Am Geriatr Soc. 2000 Jul;48(7):769-74.

The relationship between alcohol problems and health functioning of older adults in primary care settings.

Author information

  • 1Department of Veterans Affairs Serious Mental Illness Treatment Research and Evaluation Center, Health Services Research and Development, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.



The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between alcohol use and health functioning in a sample of older adults screened in primary care settings.


A cross-sectional study.


Thirty-seven primary care clinics.


Older adults (n = 8,578; aged 55-97) with regularly scheduled appointments in primary care clinics were screened.


Participants were categorized based on alcohol consumption levels as abstainers, low-risk drinkers, and at-risk drinkers (women: 9 or more drinks/week; men: 12 or more drinks/week). Dependent variables were eight SF-36 health functioning scales.


Sixty-one percent of participants were abstainers, 31% were low-risk drinkers, and 7% were at-risk drinkers. ANCOVAs found significant effects of drinking status on General Health, Physical Functioning, Physical Role Functioning, Bodily Pain, Vitality, Mental Health, Emotional Role, and Social Functioning, controlling for age and gender, with low-risk drinkers scoring significantly better than abstainers. At-risk drinkers had significantly poorer mental health functioning than low-risk drinkers. Few significant gender differences were found on SF-36 scales.


Older adults who are at-risk drinkers may not present with poor physical health functioning. Future studies are needed to determine the relationship between drinking limits for older adults and other areas of physical and psychosocial health.

Comment in

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk