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Alcohol Alcohol. 1992 Sep;27(5):481-91.

Reports of physical symptoms and alcohol use: findings from a primary health care sample.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Pennsylvania, Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, Philadelphia 19129.


The relationship between alcohol consumption and physical health was examined in a primary health care sample of 366 adults. Unlike many previous studies that relied on static measures of medical diagnoses, the data reported here are repeated assessments of self-reported symptoms and alcohol use over 12 months. The results suggest, first, that drinking patterns in non-alcoholic samples fluctuate over time, and, second, that abstainers who have more prior illnesses or worse current health consistently report the greatest number of physical symptoms. The data highlight the importance of accounting for the health status of abstainers before comparing them with users of alcohol, and suggest that the presence of physical symptoms in addition to objective indices of health (e.g. the need for medication) may play a role in the initiation or maintenance of abstinence.

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