South African Medical Journal

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Characteristics and correlates of alcohol consumption among adult chronic care patients in North West Province, South Africa

A Bhana, S.D. Rathod, O Selohilwe, T Kathree, I Petersen


Background. Alcohol consumption patterns in South Africa (SA) tend to be characterised by risky patterns of drinking. Taken together with the large burden of disease associated with HIV and tuberculosis (TB), heavy alcohol consumption patterns with these chronic conditions has the potential to compromise the efficacy of treatment efforts among such patients.

Objective. To explore the characteristics, correlates and diagnoses of alcohol use disorders among chronic care patients in SA.

Method. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in three public health clinic facilities in the North West Province of SA. A total of 1 322 patients were recruited from non-emergency waiting areas.

Results. Proportions of patients with abstinence, hazardous, harmful and dependent consumption were determined using logistic regression. Of the patients screened, nearly half (45%) drank alcohol and, of these, 10% were classified as hazardous drinkers, 1.7% as harmful drinkers, and 1.6% as dependent drinkers (overall 3% alcohol use disorder). Abstinence proportions were 60% and 38% among women and men, respectively. Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test scores for men were 63% higher than for women. The lowest patient abstinence proportion (47%) and highest dependent drinking (10%) was for TB. The highest abstinence proportion was for diabetes (65%), and the highest hazardous and harmful drinking was among TB (14%) and HIV (7%) patients.

Conclusions. The high levels of risky drinking among chronic care patients, particularly among patients receiving treatment for HIV and TB, are concerning. Instituting appropriate screening measures and referral to treatment would be an important first step in mitigating the effects of risky alcohol use among chronic care patients.
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