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Int J Public Health. 2010 Dec;55(6):637-43. doi: 10.1007/s00038-010-0122-y. Epub 2010 Feb 9.

Severity of unhealthy alcohol consumption in medical inpatients and the general population: is the general hospital a suitable place for brief interventions?

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Research Group Substance Abuse: Treatment, Epidemiology and Prevention, University of Luebeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, 23538, L├╝beck, Germany. gallus.bischof@psychiatrie.uk-sh.de



Evidence for brief interventions in general hospital (GH) settings is scarce, probably due to higher rates of dependent drinkers. The present study aims to compare unhealthy drinking patterns in GH patients with the general population (GP).


Sample 1 consisted of 4,075 individuals randomly drawn from registration office files, representing the non-institutionalised GP of a northern mixed rural-urban German area. Sample 2 consisted of 2,949 consecutively admitted patients from a GH covering the same area.


Compared to individuals from the GP, GH patients revealed higher prevalence rates of alcohol dependence (1.3 vs. 5.5%) and alcohol abuse (1.2 vs. 2.8%), but did not differ significantly concerning at-risk drinking (5.1 vs. 6.2%). Multinomial logistic regression analysis controlling for age, sex and smoking using unrisky alcohol consumption as reference category belonging to the GH group was predictive for alcohol use disorders but not for at-risk drinking.


Data show that a substantial number of individuals with unhealthy drinking patterns without alcohol use disorders can easily be accessed in GH settings if appropriate screening measures are conducted.

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