Alcohol use disorders, consumption patterns, and health-related quality of life of primary care patients

Robert J. Volk, Scott B. Cantor, Jeffrey R. Steinbauer, Alvah R. Cass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


This study examined the association of alcohol use disorders and consumption patters with various dimensions of Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) in primary care patients, as measured by the SF-36 Health Survey. A probability sample of 1333 primary care patients completed the Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule to determine the presence of alcohol abuse or dependence disorders, and answered questions about patterns of alcohol consumption. Physical and Mental Health Component Summaries and primary scales of the SF-36 were used as measures of HRQOL. Patients meeting criteria for alcohol dependence scored lower (poorer HRQOL) on the Mental Health Component Summary and each primary scale of the SF-36, whereas no differences were observed for alcohol abusers compared with patients not meeting criteria for a disorder. The association of alcohol dependence with diminished mental health functioning was mediated by its co- occurrence with mood and anxiety disorders. Patients who drank in a Frequent, Low-Quantity pattern generally had better overall HRQOL than patients from other consumption groups. Binge drinkers and Frequent, High-Quantity Drinkers showed markedly lower scores in the areas of Role Functioning and Mental Health. In contrast to recent studies of mental health problems in primary care, alcohol use disorders and consumption patterns seem to have a modest impact on patients' HRQOL. These effects, though, vary by dimension of functioning, the presence of alcohol dependence rather than abuse, and pattern of alcohol consumption. Global measures of HRQOL such as the SF-36 Health Survey may provide important indicators of treatment effectiveness in primary care intervention studies for patients with drinking problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-905
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol abuse/dependence
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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