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Effects of Gender, Ethnicity, and Medical Illness on Drinking Cessation in Older Primary Care Patients


Objective. This study examined the effects of gender, ethnicity, and medical illness on cessation of alcohol consumption in late life, by analyzing characteristics that distinguish current drinkers from former drinkers. Method. Participants were 211 medical patients aged 55-91, recruited from four public-sector primary care clinics. Respondents completed the Short Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (SMAST), and provided health and demographic data. A subset (n = 139) reported drinking history. Of these participants, 40% reported cessation of alcohol consumption at least one year prior to their participation in the study. Results. Older age, hypertension and heart problems were associated with drinking cessation among women but not among men. In logistic regression, drinking cessation was predicted by being unmarried, being a member of an ethnic minority group, heart problems and diabetes. Discussion. Physical illnesses may contribute to drinking cessation, especially in older women. Results have implications for alcohol interventions with older adults.

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