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1.  The impact of mild induced hypothermia on the rate of transfusion and the mortality in severely injured patients: a retrospective multi-centre study 
Although under discussion, induced hypothermia (IH) is an established therapy for patients with cardiac arrest or traumatic brain injuries. The influences on coagulopathy and bleeding tendency in severely injured patients (SIP) with concomitant traumatic brain injury are most widely unclear. Therefore, the aim of this study was to quantify the effect of mild IH in SIP with concomitant severe traumatic brain injuries on transfusion rate and mortality.
In this retrospective multi-centre study, SIP from three European level-1 trauma centres with an ISS ≥16 between 2009 and 2011 were included. At hospital A, patients qualified for IH with age ≤70 years and a severe head injury with an abbreviated injury scale (AISHead) of ≥3. IH was defined as target core body temperature of 35 °C. Hypothermic patients were matched with two patients, one from hospital B and one from hospital C using age and AISHead. The effect of IH on the transfusion rate, complications and mortality was quantified with 95 % confidence intervals (CI). Patients not treated with IH in hospital A and those from hospital B and C, who were not matched, were used to adjust the CI for the effect of inter-hospital therapy protocol differences.
Mean age of patients in the IH-group (n = 43) was 35.7 years, mean ISS 30 points and sex distribution showed 83.7 % male. Mean age of matched patients in the normotherm-group (n = 86) was 36.7 years, mean ISS 33 points and there were 75.6 % males. For the hypothermic patients, we pointed out an estimate of mean difference for the number of transfused units of packed red blood cells as well as for mortality which does not indicate a decrease in the benefit gained by hypothermia. It is suggested that hypothermic patients tend to a higher rate of lung failure and thromboembolisms.
Though tending to an increased rate of complications, there is no evidence for a difference in both; rate of transfusion and mortality in SIP. Mild IH as an option for severe head injuries seems as well-being practicable in the presence of multiple severe injuries. Further, clinical studies regarding the side effects are necessary.
PMCID: PMC5052900  PMID: 27716419
Severely injured; Induced hypothermia; Transfusion rate; Mortality
2.  Social Processes Explaining the Benefits of Al-Anon Participation 
This study examined social processes of support, goal direction, provision of role models, and involvement in rewarding activities to explain benefits of participating in Al-Anon, a 12-step mutual-help program for people concerned about another person’s substance use. Newcomers to Al-Anon were studied at baseline and 6 months later, when they were identified as having sustained attendance or dropped out. Among newcomers, and among established Al-Anon members (“oldtimers”), we also used number of Al-Anon meetings attended during follow-up to indicate extent of participation. Social processes significantly mediated between newcomers’ attendance status as sustained (versus dropped out) and outcomes of Al-Anon in the domains of life context (e.g., better quality of life, better able to handle problems due to the drinker), improved positive symptoms (more self-esteem, more hopeful), and decreased negative symptoms (e.g., less abuse, less depressed). Social processes also significantly mediated between newcomers’ number of meetings and outcomes. However, among oldtimers, Al-Anon attendance was not associated with outcomes, so the potential mediating role of social processes could not be examined, but social processes were associated with outcomes. Findings add to the growing body of work identifying mechanisms by which 12-step groups are effective, by showing that bonding, goal direction, and access to peers in recovery and rewarding pursuits help to explain associations between sustained Al-Anon participation among newcomers and improvements on key concerns of Al-Anon attendees. Al-Anon is free of charge and widely available, making it a potentially cost-effective public health resource in helping to alleviate negative consequences of concern about another’s addiction.
PMCID: PMC4702510  PMID: 26727006
3.  Substance abuse and batterer programmes in California, USA: factors associated with treatment outcomes 
The association between substance abuse and intimate partner violence is quite robust. A promising area to improve treatment for the dual problems of substance abuse and violence perpetration is the identification of client characteristics and organisational and programme factors as predictors of health outcomes. Therefore, we examined associations of client, organisational and programme factors with outcomes in community health settings. Directors of 241 substance use disorder programmes (SUDPs) and 235 batterer intervention programmes (BIPs) reported outcomes of programme completion and substance use and violence perpetration rates at discharge; data collection and processing were completed in 2012. SUDPs having more female, non-white, younger, uneducated, unemployed and lower income clients reported lower completion rates. In SUDPs, private, for-profit programmes reported higher completion rates than public or private, non-profit programmes. SUDPs with lower proportions of their budgets from government sources, and higher proportions from client fees, reported better outcomes. Larger SUDPs had poorer programme completion and higher substance use rates. Completion rates in SUDPs were higher when clients could obtain substance- and violence-related help at one location, and programmes integrated violence-prevention contracting into care. In BIPs, few client, organisational and programme factors were associated with outcomes, but the significant factors associated with programme completion were consistent with those for SUDPs. Publicly owned and larger programmes, and SUDPs lacking staff to integrate violence-related treatment, may be at risk of poorer client outcomes, but could learn from programmes that perform well to yield better outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4573371  PMID: 25470658
batterer intervention; client factors; community health; intimate partner violence; organisational factors; programme factors; substance use disorder; treatment outcomes
4.  Predictors of High Profit and High Deficit Outliers under SwissDRG of a Tertiary Care Center 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0140874.
Case weights of Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs) are determined by the average cost of cases from a previous billing period. However, a significant amount of cases are largely over- or underfunded. We therefore decided to analyze earning outliers of our hospital as to search for predictors enabling a better grouping under SwissDRG.
28,893 inpatient cases without additional private insurance discharged from our hospital in 2012 were included in our analysis. Outliers were defined by the interquartile range method. Predictors for deficit and profit outliers were determined with logistic regressions. Predictors were shortlisted with the LASSO regularized logistic regression method and compared to results of Random forest analysis. 10 of these parameters were selected for quantile regression analysis as to quantify their impact on earnings.
Psychiatric diagnosis and admission as an emergency case were significant predictors for higher deficit with negative regression coefficients for all analyzed quantiles (p<0.001). Admission from an external health care provider was a significant predictor for a higher deficit in all but the 90% quantile (p<0.001 for Q10, Q20, Q50, Q80 and p = 0.0017 for Q90). Burns predicted higher earnings for cases which were favorably remunerated (p<0.001 for the 90% quantile). Osteoporosis predicted a higher deficit in the most underfunded cases, but did not predict differences in earnings for balanced or profitable cases (Q10 and Q20: p<0.00, Q50: p = 0.10, Q80: p = 0.88 and Q90: p = 0.52). ICU stay, mechanical and patient clinical complexity level score (PCCL) predicted higher losses at the 10% quantile but also higher profits at the 90% quantile (p<0.001).
We suggest considering psychiatric diagnosis, admission as an emergencay case and admission from an external health care provider as DRG split criteria as they predict large, consistent and significant losses.
PMCID: PMC4627843  PMID: 26517545
5.  Longitudinal changes in somatic symptoms and family disagreements among depression and community groups: a 23-year study 
BMC Psychiatry  2015;15:240.
Few longitudinal studies describe the relationship between somatic symptoms and family disagreements. We examined changes over time in somatic symptoms, family disagreements, their interrelationships, and whether these patterns differed between individuals treated for depression (depression group) and individuals from the same community (community group).
We followed participants in the depression (N = 423) and community (N = 424) groups for 23 years (the community group was matched to the depression group on socioeconomic status, gender, and marital status). All participants were age 18+ and completed surveys at baseline, 1, 4, 10, and 23 year follow-ups. We assessed somatic symptoms and family disagreements at each time point and used latent growth curve modeling to examine change in these constructs over time.
Somatic symptoms and family disagreements changed differently over time. Somatic symptoms decreased between baseline and the 10 year follow-up, but increased between the 10 and 23 year follow-ups, whereas family disagreements decreased linearly over time. Somatic symptoms and family disagreements were higher at baseline and declined at a faster rate in the depression compared to the community group. The relationship between changes in somatic symptoms and changes in family disagreements was also stronger in the depression group: a larger decrease in somatic symptoms was associated with a larger decrease in family disagreements.
Longitudinal changes in somatic symptoms and family disagreements differ between depression and community groups. Individuals treated for depression had more somatic symptoms and family disagreements at baseline and improved at a faster rate compared to individuals in the community. Somatic symptoms and family disagreements may be important targets when treating depression, given the strong interrelationship among these factors in individuals with depression.
PMCID: PMC4599756  PMID: 26449276
Somatic Symptoms; Family disagreements; Depression; Longitudinal; Latent growth curve modeling
6.  The Challenges of Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans’ Transition from Military to Civilian Life and Approaches to Reconnection 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0128599.
Afghanistan and Iraq veterans experienced traumas during deployment, and disrupted connections with friends and family. In this context, it is critical to understand the nature of veterans’ transition to civilian life, the challenges navigated, and approaches to reconnection. We investigated these issues in a qualitative study, framed by homecoming theory, that comprised in-depth interviews with 24 veterans. Using an inductive thematic analysis approach, we developed three overarching themes. Military as family explored how many veterans experienced the military environment as a “family” that took care of them and provided structure. Normal is alien encompassed many veterans experiences of disconnection from people at home, lack of support from institutions, lack of structure, and loss of purpose upon return to civilian life. Searching for a new normal included strategies and supports veterans found to reconnect in the face of these challenges. A veteran who had successfully transitioned and provided support and advice as a peer navigator was frequently discussed as a key resource. A minority of respondents—those who were mistreated by the military system, women veterans, and veterans recovering from substance abuse problems—were less able to access peer support. Other reconnection strategies included becoming an ambassador to the military experience, and knowing transition challenges would ease with time. Results were consistent with and are discussed in the context of homecoming theory and social climate theory. Social support is known to be protective for veterans, but our findings add the nuance of substantial obstacles veterans face in locating and accessing support, due to disconnection and unsupportive institutions. Larger scale work is needed to better understand how to foster peer connection, build reconnection with family, and engage the broader community to understand and support veterans; interventions to support reconnection for veterans should be developed.
PMCID: PMC4489090  PMID: 26132291
7.  Newcomers to Al-Anon Family Groups: Who Stays and Who Drops Out? 
Addictive behaviors  2014;39(6):1042-1049.
Al-Anon Family Groups (Al-Anon), a 12-step mutual-help program for people concerned about another's drinking, is the most widely used form of help for concerned others (COs) in the US. This study assessed the prevalence of dropout, and predictors of dropout, in the six months following newcomers' initial attendance at Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon's World Service Office mailed a random sample of groups, which subsequently yielded a sample of 251 newcomers who completed surveys at baseline and 6 months later. At the 6-month follow-up, 57% of newcomers at baseline had dropped out (had not attended any Al-Anon meetings during the past month). At baseline, individuals who later dropped out of Al-Anon were less likely to have been referred to Al-Anon by their drinker's health care provider, and reported less severe problems than individuals who continued to attend, but dropouts were more often concerned about their drinker's psychological health; newcomers with these concerns may have found them incompatible with Al-Anon's philosophy. Dropouts reported high rates of problems, suggesting that COs who drop out of Al-Anon would benefit from ongoing help and support.
PMCID: PMC4120873  PMID: 24630826
Al-Anon Family Groups; mutual-help; 12-step groups; alcohol use disorders; addiction; family; recovery
8.  Episodic Heavy Drinking and 20-Year Total Mortality Among Late-Life Moderate Drinkers 
Analyses of moderate drinking have focused overwhelmingly on average consumption, which masks diverse underlying drinking patterns. This study examined the association between episodic heavy drinking and total mortality among moderate-drinking older adults.
At baseline, the sample was comprised of 446 adults aged 55 to 65: 74 moderate drinkers who engaged in episodic heavy drinking and 372 regular moderate drinkers. The database at baseline also included a broad set of sociodemographic, behavioral, and health status covariates. Death across a 20-year follow-up period was confirmed primarily by death certificate.
In multiple logistic regression analyses, after adjusting for all covariates, as well as overall alcohol consumption, moderate drinkers who engaged in episodic heavy drinking had more than two times higher odds of 20-year mortality in comparison to regular moderate drinkers.
Among older moderate drinkers, those who engage in episodic heavy drinking show significantly increased total mortality risk compared to regular moderate drinkers. Episodic heavy drinking—even when average consumption remains moderate—is a significant public health concern.
PMCID: PMC4141768  PMID: 24588326
Alcohol consumption; episodic heavy drinking; mortality; aging
9.  Al-Anon Family Groups’ Newcomers and Members: Concerns about the Drinkers in their Lives 
Background and Objectives
Despite Al-Anon’s widespread availability and use, knowledge is lacking about the drinkers in attendees’ lives. We filled this gap by describing and comparing Al-Anon newcomers’ and members’ reports about their “main drinker” (main person prompting initial attendance).
Al-Anon’s World Service Office mailed a random sample of groups, yielding completed surveys from newcomers (N = 362) and stable members (N = 265).
Newcomers’ and members’ drinkers generally were comparable. They had known their drinker for an average of 22 years and been concerned about his or her’s drinking for 9 years; about 50% had daily contact with the drinker. Most reported negative relationship aspects (drinker gets on your nerves; you disagree about important things). Newcomers had more concern about the drinker’s alcohol use than members did, and were more likely to report their drinkers’ driving under the influence. Drinkers’ most frequent problem due to drinking was family arguments, and most common source of help was 12-step groups, with lower rates among drinkers of newcomers. Concerns spurring initial Al-Anon attendance were the drinker’s poor quality of life, relationships, and psychological status; goals for initial attendance reflected these concerns.
Discussion and Conclusions
The drinker’s alcohol use was of less concern in prompting initial Al-Anon attendance, and, accordingly, the drinker’s reduced drinking was a less frequently endorsed goal of attendance.
Scientific Significance
Family treatments for substance use problems might expand interventions and outcome domains beyond abstinence and relationship satisfaction to include the drinker’s quality of life and psychological symptoms and in turn relieve concerns of family members.
PMCID: PMC4362684  PMID: 24628725
10.  Patient-centered feedback on the results of personality testing increases early engagement in residential substance use disorder treatment: a pilot randomized controlled trial 
Patient-centered models of assessment have shown considerable promise for increasing patients’ readiness for mental health treatment in general, but have not been used to facilitate patients’ engagement in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. We developed a brief patient-centered intervention using assessment and feedback of personality data and examined its acceptability and efficacy to increase early engagement in residential SUD treatment.
Thirty patients entering a 90-day residential SUD treatment program were randomly assigned to a feedback (n = 17) or control (n = 13; assessment-only) condition. Normal-range personality was assessed with the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised (NEO PI-R). Patients were re-interviewed one month after treatment entry to obtain information on their satisfaction with the intervention, as well as their adjustment to the residential milieu. Electronic medical records were reviewed to obtain information on patients’ length of stay in the program and discharge status. Univariate ANOVAs and chi-square tests were conducted to examine group differences on outcomes.
Patients’ ratings indicated strong satisfaction with the feedback intervention and expectations that it would have a positive impact on their treatment experiences. Among patients who had not previously been treated in the residential program, the feedback intervention was associated with more positive relationships with other residents in treatment and a stronger alliance with the treatment program one month after treatment entry. The feedback intervention was also associated with a longer length of stay in treatment, although this effect did not reach statistical significance.
The findings highlight the clinical utility of providing SUD patients with patient-centered feedback based on the results of personality testing, and provide preliminary support for the acceptability and efficacy of this intervention to facilitate early engagement in residential SUD treatment.
PMCID: PMC4421926  PMID: 25928427
Substance use disorders; Patient-centered care; Therapeutic assessment; Treatment engagement; Personality testing; Feedback
11.  Primary Localization and Tumor Thickness as Prognostic Factors of Survival in Patients with Mucosal Melanoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112535.
Data on survival with mucosal melanoma and on prognostic factors of are scarce. It is still unclear if the disease course allows for mucosal melanoma to be treated as primary cutaneous melanoma or if differences in overall survival patterns require adapted therapeutic approaches. Furthermore, this investigation is the first to present 10-year survival rates for mucosal melanomas of different anatomical localizations.
116 cases from Sep 10 1984 until Feb 15 2011 retrieved from the Comprehensive Cancer Center and of the Central Register of the German Dermatologic Society databases in Tübingen were included in our analysis. We recorded anatomical location and tumor thickness, and estimated overall survival at 2, 5 and 10 years and the mean overall survival time. Survival times were analyzed with the Kaplan-Meier method. The log-rank test was used to compare survival times by localizations and by T-stages.
Principal Findings
We found a median overall survival time of 80.9 months, with an overall 2-year survival of 71.7%, 5-year survival of 55.8% and 10-year survival of 38.3%. The 10-year survival rates for patients with T1, T2, T3 or T4 stage tumors were 100.0%, 77.9%, 66.3% and 10.6% respectively. 10-year survival of patients with melanomas of the vulva was 64.5% in comparison to 22.3% of patients with non-vulva mucosal melanomas.
Survival times differed significantly between patients with melanomas of the vulva compared to the rest (p = 0.0006). It also depends on T-stage at the time of diagnosis (p<0.0001).
PMCID: PMC4226547  PMID: 25383553
12.  Mental illness and intensification of diabetes medications: an observational cohort study 
Mental health condition (MHC) comorbidity is associated with lower intensity care in multiple clinical scenarios. However, little is known about the effect of MHC upon clinicians’ decisions about intensifying antiglycemic medications in diabetic patients with poor glycemic control. We examined whether delay in intensification of antiglycemic medications in response to an elevated Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) value is longer for patients with MHC than for those without MHC, and whether any such effect varies by specific MHC type.
In this observational study of diabetic Veterans Health Administration (VA) patients on oral antiglycemics with poor glycemic control (HbA1c ≥8) (N =52,526) identified from national VA databases, we applied Cox regression analysis to examine time to intensification of antiglycemics after an elevated HbA1c value in 2003–2004, by MHC status.
Those with MHC were no less likely to receive intensification: adjusted Hazard Ratio [95% CI] 0.99 [0.96-1.03], 1.13 [1.04-1.23], and 1.12 [1.07-1.18] at 0–14, 15–30 and 31–180 days, respectively. However, patients with substance use disorders were less likely than those without substance use disorders to receive intensification in the first two weeks following a high HbA1c, adjusted Hazard Ratio 0.89 [0.81-0.97], controlling for sex, age, medical comorbidity, other specific MHCs, and index HbA1c value.
For most MHCs, diabetic patients with MHC in the VA health care system do not appear to receive less aggressive antiglycemic management. However, the subgroup with substance use disorders does appear to have excess likelihood of non-intensification; interventions targeting this high risk subgroup merit attention.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-458) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4282515  PMID: 25339147
Psychiatric diagnosis; Diabetes mellitus/therapy; Health care delivery; Hypoglycemic agents/therapeutic use; Veterans; Health services research
13.  Receipt of Cervical Cancer Screening in Female Veterans: Impact of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Depression 
We evaluated receipt of cervical cancer screening in a national sample of 34,213 women veterans using Veteran Health Administration (VHA) facilities between 2003 and 2007 and diagnosed with either: 1) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); 2) depression; or 3) no psychiatric illness.
Our study featured a cross sectional design in which logistic regression analyses compared receipt of recommended cervical cancer screening for all three diagnostic groups.
Cervical cancer screening rates varied minimally by diagnostic group: 77% of women with PTSD vs. 75% with depression vs. 75% without psychiatric illness were screened during the study observation period, P < .001. However, primary care use was associated with differential odds of screening in women with vs. without psychiatric illness (PTSD or depression), and findings held after even after adjustment for age, income and physical comorbidities (Wald Chi Square (2): 126.59, P < .0001). Specifically, among low users of primary care services, women PTSD or depression were more likely than those without psychiatric diagnoses to receive screening, but among high users of primary care services, they were less likely to receive screening.
Psychiatric illness (PTSD or depression) had little to no effect on receipt of cervical cancer screening. Our finding that high use of primary care services was not associated with comparable odds of screening in women with vs. without psychiatric illness suggests that providers caring for women with PTSD or depression and high use of primary care services should be especially attentive to their preventive health care needs.
PMCID: PMC3704317  PMID: 23660429
cervical cancer screening; PTSD; depression; women; veterans
14.  Alcoholics Anonymous and Reduced Impulsivity: A Novel Mechanism of Change 
Reduced impulsivity is a novel, yet plausible, mechanism of change associated with the salutary effects of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Here, we review our work on links between AA attendance and reduced impulsivity using a 16-year prospective study of men and women with alcohol use disorders (AUD) who were initially untreated for their drinking problems. Across the study period, there were significant mean-level decreases in impulsivity, and longer AA duration was associated with reductions in impulsivity. In turn, decreases in impulsivity from baseline to Year 1 were associated with fewer legal problems and better drinking and psychosocial outcomes at Year 1, and better psychosocial functioning at Year 8. Decreases in impulsivity mediated associations between longer AA duration and improvements on several Year 1 outcomes, with the indirect effects conditional on participants’ age. Findings are discussed in terms of their potential implications for research on AA and, more broadly, interventions for individuals with AUD.
PMCID: PMC3558834  PMID: 23327499
Alcoholics Anonymous; Impulsivity; Mechanism of Change
15.  Coping Trajectories in Later Life: A 20-Year Predictive Study 
Aging & mental health  2012;16(3):305-316.
Objectives and Method
Information about aging-related change in coping is limited mainly to results of cross-sectional studies of age differences in coping, and no research has focused on predictors of aging-related change in coping behavior. To extend research in this area, we used longitudinal multilevel modeling to describe older adults’ (n=719; baseline M=61 years) 20-year, intra-individual approach and avoidance coping trajectories, and to determine the influence of two sets of predictors (threat appraisal and stressor characteristics; gender and baseline personal and social resources) on level and rate of change in these trajectories.
Over the 20-year study interval participants declined in use of approach coping and most avoidance coping strategies, but there was significant variation in this trend. In simultaneous predictive models, female gender, more threat appraisal, stressor severity, social resources, and depressive symptoms; and fewer financial resources, were independently associated with higher initial levels of coping responses. Having more social resources, and fewer financial resources, at baseline in late-middle-age predicted faster decline over time in approach coping. Having more baseline depressive symptoms, and fewer baseline financial resources, hastened decline in use of avoidance coping. Independent of other variables in these models, decline over time in approach coping and avoidance coping remained statistically significant.
Overall decline in coping may be a normative pattern of coping change in later life. However, it also is modifiable by older adults’ stressor appraisals, their stressors, and the personal and social resources they possess at entry to later life, in late-middle age.
PMCID: PMC3323682  PMID: 22394319
Coping; Stress; Older adults; Longitudinal trajectories
16.  Alcoholics Anonymous Attendance, Decreases in Impulsivity, and Drinking and Psychosocial Outcomes over 16 Years: Moderated-Mediation from a Developmental Perspective 
Addiction (Abingdon, England)  2011;106(12):2167-2177.
Examine whether decreases in impulsivity account for links between AA attendance and better drinking and psychosocial outcomes, and whether these mediational “effects” are conditional on age.
A naturalistic study in which individuals were assessed at baseline, and 1, 8, and 16 years later.
Participants initiated help-seeking through the alcohol intervention system (detoxification programs, information and referral centers).
Individuals with alcohol use disorders and no prior history of substance abuse treatment at baseline [N=628; 47% women; mean age = 34.7 years (SD=9.4)].
Self-reports of impulsivity and drinking pattern at baseline and Year 1, duration of AA (number of weeks) in Year 1, and drinking (alcohol use problems, self-efficacy to resist drinking) and psychosocial outcomes (emotional discharge coping, social support) at baseline and follow-ups.
Controlling for changes in drinking pattern, decreases in impulsivity were associated with fewer alcohol use problems, better coping, and greater social support and self-efficacy at Year 1, and better coping and greater social support at Year 8. Decreases in impulsivity statistically mediated associations between longer AA duration and improvements on all Year 1 outcomes, and indirect effects were moderated by participant age (significant only for individuals 25 years of age or younger).
Decreased impulsivity appears to mediate reductions in alcohol-related problems over 8 years in people attending Alcoholics Anonymous.
PMCID: PMC3208772  PMID: 21631626
17.  Impulsivity is an Independent Predictor of 15-Year Mortality Risk among Individuals Seeking Help for Alcohol-Related Problems 
Although past research has found impulsivity to be a significant predictor of mortality, no studies have tested this association in samples of individuals with alcohol-related problems or examined moderation of this effect via socio-contextual processes. The current study addressed these issues in a mixed-gender sample of individuals seeking help for alcohol-related problems.
Using Cox proportional hazard models, variables measured at baseline and Year 1 of a 16-year prospective study were used to predict the probability of death from Years 1 to 16 (i.e., 15-year mortality risk). There were 628 participants at baseline (47.1% women); 515 and 405 participated in the follow-up assessments at Years 1 and 16, respectively. Among Year 1 participants, 93 individuals were known to have died between Years 1 to 16.
After controlling for age, gender, and marital status, higher impulsivity at baseline was associated with an increased risk of mortality from Years 1 to 16; however, this association was accounted for by the severity of alcohol use at baseline. In contrast, higher impulsivity at Year 1 was associated with an increased risk of mortality from Years 1 to 16, and remained significant when accounting for the severity of alcohol use, as well as physical health problems, emotional discharge coping, and interpersonal stress and support at Year 1. In addition, the association between Year 1 impulsivity and 15-year mortality risk was moderated by interpersonal support at Year 1, such that individuals high on impulsivity had a lower mortality risk when peer/friend support was high than when it was low.
The findings highlight impulsivity as a robust and independent predictor of mortality, and suggest the need to consider interactions between personality traits and socio-contextual processes in the prediction of health-related outcomes for individuals with alcohol use disorders.
PMCID: PMC3167944  PMID: 21631544
Impulsivity; Mortality; Alcohol Use Disorders; Socio-Contextual Processes
18.  Addressing substance abuse and violence in substance use disorder treatment and batterer intervention programs 
Substance use disorders and perpetration of intimate partner violence (IPV) are interrelated, major public health problems.
We surveyed directors of a sample of substance use disorder treatment programs (SUDPs; N=241) and batterer intervention programs (BIPs; N=235) in California (70% response rate) to examine the extent to which SUDPs address IPV, and BIPs address substance abuse.
Generally, SUDPs were not addressing co-occurring IPV perpetration in a formal and comprehensive way. Few had a policy requiring assessment of potential clients, or monitoring of admitted clients, for violence perpetration; almost one-quarter did not admit potential clients who had perpetrated IPV, and only 20% had a component or track to address violence. About one-third suspended or terminated clients engaging in violence. The most common barriers to SUDPs providing IPV services were that violence prevention was not part of the program’s mission, staff lacked training in violence, and the lack of reimbursement mechanisms for such services. In contrast, BIPs tended to address substance abuse in a more formal and comprehensive way; e.g., one-half had a policy requiring potential clients to be assessed, two-thirds required monitoring of substance abuse among admitted clients, and almost one-half had a component or track to address substance abuse. SUDPs had clients with fewer resources (marriage, employment, income, housing), and more severe problems (both alcohol and drug use disorders, dual substance use and other mental health disorders, HIV + status). We found little evidence that services are centralized for individuals with both substance abuse and violence problems, even though most SUDP and BIP directors agreed that help for both problems should be obtained simultaneously in separate programs.
SUDPs may have difficulty addressing violence because they have a clientele with relatively few resources and more complex psychological and medical needs. However, policy change can modify barriers to treatment integration and service linkage, such as reimbursement restrictions and lack of staff training.
PMCID: PMC3489609  PMID: 22958624
Substance use disorder; Substance abuse treatment policy; Batterer intervention; Intimate partner violence; Treatment integration; Service centralization
19.  Alcohol Screening Scores and the Risk of New-Onset Gastrointestinal Illness or Related Hospitalization 
Excessive alcohol use is associated with a variety of negative health outcomes, including liver disease, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and pancreatitis.
To determine the 2-year risk of gastrointestinal-related hospitalization and new-onset gastrointestinal illness based on alcohol screening scores.
Retrospective cohort study.
Male (N = 215, 924) and female (N = 9,168) outpatients who returned mailed questionnaires and were followed for 24 months.
Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test—Consumption Questionnaire (AUDIT-C), a validated three-item alcohol screening questionnaire (0–12 points).
Two-year risk of hospitalization with a gastrointestinal disorder was increased in men with AUDIT-C scores of 5–8 and 9–12 (OR 1.54, 95% CI = 1.27–1.86; and OR 3.27; 95% CI = 2.62–4.09 respectively), and women with AUDIT-C scores of 9–12 (OR 6.84, 95% CI = 1.85 – 25.37). Men with AUDIT-C scores of 5–8 and 9–12 had increased risk of new-onset liver disease (OR 1.49, 95% CI = 1.30–1.71; and OR 2.82, 95% CI = 2.38–3.34 respectively), and new-onset of upper gastrointestinal bleeding (OR 1.28, 95% CI = 1.05–1.57; and OR 2.14, 95% CI = 1.54-2.97 respectively). Two-year risk of new-onset pancreatitis in men with AUDIT -C scores 9–12 was also increased (OR 2.14; 95% CI = 1.54–2.97).
Excessive alcohol use as determined by AUDIT-C is associated with 2-year increased risk of gastrointestinal-related hospitalization in men and women and new-onset liver disease, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and pancreatitis in men. These results provide risk information that clinicians can use in evidence-based conversations with patients about their alcohol consumption.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-011-1688-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3138581  PMID: 21455813
alcohol; AUDIT; gastrointestinal; hospitalization; new-onset; women
20.  Painful Medical Conditions and Alcohol Use: A Prospective Study Among Older Adults 
Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.)  2011;12(7):1049-1059.
To determine associations between older adults’ baseline painful medical conditions and their 10-year drinking behavior, and whether personal and life context characteristics moderate these associations.
At baseline, then 1, 4, and 10 years later, late-middle-aged community residents (M=61 years; n=1,291) were surveyed regarding their painful medical conditions, use of alcohol, and personal and life context characteristics. Latent growth modeling was used to determine concurrent and prospective relationships between painful medical conditions and 10-year drinking behavior, and moderating effects of personal and life context characteristics on these relationships.
At baseline, individuals reporting more numerous painful medical conditions consumed alcohol less frequently, but had more frequent drinking problems, than did individuals with fewer such conditions. Being female and having more interpersonal social resources strengthened the association between painful medical conditions and less ethanol consumed. For men more so than women, more numerous painful medical conditions were associated with more frequent drinking problems. Baseline painful medical conditions alone had no prospective effect on 10-year change in drinking behavior, but being older and having more interpersonal social resources made it more likely that baseline painful medical conditions would predict decline over time in frequency of alcohol consumption and drinking problems.
Late-middle-aged individuals who have more numerous painful medical conditions reduce alcohol consumption but nonetheless remain at risk for more frequent drinking problems. Gender, age, and interpersonal social resources moderate the influence of painful medical conditions on late-life alcohol use. These results imply that older individuals with pain are at little immediate or long-term risk for increased alcohol consumption, but clinicians should remain alert to drinking problems among their older pain patients, especially men.
PMCID: PMC3146463  PMID: 21668742
pain; alcohol; drinking problems; older adults
21.  Dually diagnosed patients’ responses to substance use disorder treatment 
Few studies have investigated whether dually diagnosed patients with co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders (DD) respond as well to substance use disorder (SUD) treatments as patients with SUD do. Here we assessed whether male veteran DD and SUD patients with alcohol dependence diagnoses differed in the process and outcomes of residential SUD treatment. The main findings showed that (a) DD patients did not perceive SUD programs as positively as patients with SUD did and had worse proximal outcomes at discharge from treatment; (b) DD patients did as well as SUD patients on 1- and 5-year substance use outcomes but had worse psychiatric outcomes; and (c) patients who perceived treatment more positively and had better outcomes at discharge had better longer term outcomes. Thus, residential SUD programs are relatively effective in reducing DD patients’ substance use problems; however, they are less successful in engaging DD patients in treatment and addressing their psychiatric problems.
PMCID: PMC3292216  PMID: 19540699
Dual diagnosis; Substance use disorder treatment; Alcoholism
22.  Personal, Family, and Social Functioning among Older Couples Concordant and Discordant for High-Risk Alcohol Consumption 
Addiction (Abingdon, England)  2010;106(2):324-334.
This study compares the personal, family, and social functioning of older husbands and wives concordant or discordant for high-risk alcohol consumption and identifies predictors of changes in concordance and high-risk consumption.
Design, Participants, Measurements
Three groups of couples were identified at baseline and followed 10 years later: (1) concordant couples in which husbands and wives engaged in low-risk alcohol consumption (N = 54), (2) concordant couples in which husbands and wives engaged in high-risk alcohol consumption (N = 38), and (3) discordant couples in which one partner engaged in high-risk alcohol consumption and the other partner did not (N = 75). At each follow-up, husbands and wives completed an inventory that assessed their personal, family, and social functioning.
Compared to the low-risk concordant group, husbands and wives in the high-risk concordant group were more likely to rely on tension-reduction coping, reported more friend approval of drinking, and were less involved in religious activities; however, they did not differ in the quality of the spousal relationship. The frequency of alcohol consumption declined among husbands in discordant couples, but not among husbands in concordant couples. Predictors of high-risk drinking included tension-reduction coping, friend approval of drinking, and, for husbands, their wives’ level of drinking.
High-risk and discordant alcohol consumption do not seem to be linked to decrements in family functioning among older couples in long-term stable marriages. The predictors of heavy alcohol consumption among older husbands and wives identify points of intervention that may help to reduce their high-risk drinking.
PMCID: PMC3017234  PMID: 20883458
alcohol consumption; husband-wife concordance; older couples
23.  Risk of future trauma based on alcohol screening scores: A two-year prospective cohort study among US veterans 
Severe alcohol misuse as measured by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test–Consumption (AUDIT-C) is associated with increased risk of future fractures and trauma-related hospitalizations. This study examined the association between AUDIT-C scores and two-year risk of any type of trauma among US Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patients and assessed whether risk varied by age or gender.
Outpatients (215, 924 male and 9168 female) who returned mailed AUDIT-C questionnaires were followed for 24 months in the medical record for any International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-9) code related to trauma. The two-year prevalence of trauma was examined as a function of AUDIT-C scores, with low-level drinking (AUDIT-C 1–4) as the reference group. Men and women were examined separately, and age-stratified analyses were performed.
Having an AUDIT-C score of 9–12 (indicating severe alcohol misuse) was associated with increased risk for trauma. Mean (SD) ages for men and women were 68.2 (11.5) and 57.2 (15.8), respectively. Age-stratified analyses showed that, for men ≤50 years, those with AUDIT-C scores ≥9 had an increased risk for trauma compared with those with AUDIT-C scores in the 1–4 range (adjusted prevalence, 25.7% versus 20.8%, respectively; OR = 1.24; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03–1.50). For men ≥65 years with average comorbidity and education, those with AUDIT-C scores of 5–8 (adjusted prevalence, 7.9% versus 7.4%; OR = 1.16; 95% CI, 1.02–1.31) and 9–12 (adjusted prevalence 11.1% versus 7.4%; OR = 1.68; 95% CI, 1.30–2.17) were at significantly increased risk for trauma compared with men ≥65 years in the reference group. Higher AUDIT-C scores were not associated with increased risk of trauma among women.
Men with severe alcohol misuse (AUDIT-C 9–12) demonstrate an increased risk of trauma. Men ≥65 showed an increased risk for trauma at all levels of alcohol misuse (AUDIT-C 5–8 and 9–12). These findings may be used as part of an evidence-based brief intervention for alcohol use disorders. More research is needed to understand the relationship between AUDIT-C scores and risk of trauma in women.
PMCID: PMC3414833  PMID: 22966411
Alcohol; Trauma; Fracture; AUDIT-C; Age; Gender; Screening; Women
24.  Building the first step: a review of low-intensity interventions for stepped care 
Within the last 30 years, a substantial number of interventions for alcohol use disorders (AUDs) have received empirical support. Nevertheless, fewer than 25% of individuals with alcohol-related problems access these interventions. If several intensive psychosocial treatments are relatively effective, but most individuals in need do not access them, it seems logical to place a priority on developing more engaging interventions. Accordingly, after briefly describing findings about barriers to help-seeking, we focus on identifying an array of innovative and effective low-intensity intervention strategies, including telephone, computer-based, and Internet-based interventions, that surmount these barriers and are suitable for use within a stepped-care model. We conclude that these interventions attract individuals who would otherwise not seek help, that they can benefit individuals who misuse alcohol and those with more severe AUDs, and that they can facilitate subsequent help-seeking when needed. We note that these types of low-intensity interventions are flexible and can be tailored to address many of the perceived barriers that hinder individuals with alcohol misuse or AUDs from obtaining timely help. We also describe key areas of further research, such as identifying the mechanisms that underlie stepped-care interventions and finding out how to structure these interventions to best initiate a program of stepped care.
PMCID: PMC3554471  PMID: 23227807
Alcohol use disorders; Stepped care; Help seeking; Intervention
25.  Associations Between AUDIT-C and Mortality Vary by Age and Sex 
Population Health Management  2010;13(5):263-268.
We sought to determine the sex- and age-specific risk of mortality associated with scores on the 3-item Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test–Consumption (AUDIT-C) questionnaire using data from a national sample of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patients. Men (N = 215,924) and women (N = 9168) who completed the AUDIT-C in a patient survey were followed for 24 months. AUDIT-C categories (0, 1–4, 5–8, 9–12) were evaluated as predictors of mortality in logistic regression models, adjusted for age, race, education, marital status, smoking, depression, and comorbidities. For women, AUDIT-C scores of 9–12 were associated with a significantly increased risk of death compared to the AUDIT-C 1-4 group (odds ratio [OR] 7.09; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.67, 18.82). For men overall, AUDIT-C scores of 5–8 and 9–12 were associated with increased risk of death compared to the AUDIT-C 1-4 group (OR 1.13, 95% CI = 1.05, 1.21, and OR 1.63, 95% CI = 1.45, 1.84, respectively) but these associations varied by age. These results provide sex- and age-tailored risk information that clinicians can use in evidence-based conversations with patients about the health-related risks of their alcohol consumption. This study adds to the growing literature establishing the AUDIT-C as a scaled marker of alcohol-related risk or “vital sign” that might facilitate the detection and management of alcohol-related risks and problems. (Population Health Management 2010;13:263–268)
PMCID: PMC3135896  PMID: 20879907

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