One out of 10 US adults aged ≥ 65 years is a "current binge drinker," a new study found. It is sobering data and a call to action for primary care.
Study participants were 10 927 adults, aged ≥ 65 years, from the 2015 to 2017 administrations of the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
The slide show above highlights key findings from the study followed by a short check-list from the American Academy of Family Physicians to help primary care physicians evaluate how their practice currently approaches screening and intervention for alcohol use at risky levels.
The survey asked participants if they had “engaged in alcohol use and binge drinking in the past month.“ Binge drinking was defined for women as consuming 4 or more drinks, and for men as consuming 5 or more drinks, at one sitting.
A drink was defined as a can or bottle of beer, a glass of wine or a wine cooler, a shot of liquor, or a mixed drink with liquor in it.
Older adults who engaged in binge drinking were also more likely to have visited the emergency department (ED) within the last year. Study authors suggest that the negative effect of excessive alcohol use on chronic conditions in this population may help explain the likelihood of ED visits.
“Our results underscore the importance of educating, screening, and intervening to prevent alcohol-related harms in older adults, who may not be aware of their heightened risk for injuries and how alcohol can exacerbate chronic diseases.”
-- Lead study author Benjamin H. Han PhD
Alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI) is a USPSTF grade B recommendation that includes: 1) Screening all adult primary care patients for risky alcohol use, at least yearly, using an evidence-based screening tool; and 2) Providing a brief behavioral intervention to patients screening positive for risky alcohol use, to help them make healthier choices around their drinking (eg, to reduce alcohol use or quit drinking).
The short assessment tool above is from the AAFP's Addressing Alcohol Use Practice Manual: An Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Program.
The full manual is designed to provide a systems-change approach for implementing alcohol SBI into office-based practice.
2. How does your practice environment currently communicate to patients the health effects of at-risk drinking and your ability to assist them?
5. What would a successful alcohol reduction program in your practice look like? 6. What are some of the challenges in identifying at-risk patients and helping them reduce alcohol consumption? 7. What has worked in your practice to help patients reduce alcohol use or quit drinking? What has not worked?
A study published July 31, 2019 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society esimates that 10.6% of US adults aged â¥ 65 years are "current binge drinkers."Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive or risky alcohol use among all US adults and accounts for >50% of alcohol consumed. Study authors emphasize that older adults are particularly vulnerable to the effects of excessive alcohol use including potential exacerbation of chronic health conditions as well as interference with prescribed medication.Â