A comparison of alcohol measures as predictors of psychological distress in the New Zealand population
Foulds, J., Wells, J. E., Lacey, C., Adamson, S., Sellman, J. D. & Mulder, R. (2013). A comparison of alcohol measures as predictors of psychological distress in the New Zealand population. International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research, 2(1), 59-67. doi: 10.7895/ijadr.v2i1.73 (http://dx.doi.org/10.7895/ijadr.v2i1.73)
Aims: To compare alcohol consumption and alcohol problems measures as predictors of current psychological distress.
Design: A household survey. Logistic regression models investigated the association between alcohol measures and high psychological distress.
Setting: New Zealand population sample.
Participants: 12488 adults aged 15 and over.
Measures: Alcohol use was measured by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). The AUDIT was separated into two component factors, the first 3 items (AUDIT-C) denoting consumption and the remaining 7 items denoting problems. Psychological distress was measured using the K10, with high psychological distress defined as a score of 12 or more.
Findings: A J-shaped association was found between AUDIT score and high psychological distress. High distress was present in 6.5% of the population, 10.1% of abstainers and 35.1% of those with AUDIT scores 20 and over. Excluding abstainers, scores on the AUDIT-C were only associated with an excess of high distress at very high consumption levels indicated by a score of 10 or more. On the problems factor, the percentage with high distress was 4.5% in drinkers scoring 0, 6.1% for scores 1-3, 9.4% for scores 4-7 and 24.1% for scores of 8 or more. Results from logistic regression models including both consumption and problems factors as predictors showed that problems were stronger predictors of psychological distress than was consumption.
Conclusions: The association between alcohol consumption and current mental health is relatively weak, except in the presence of very heavy consumption or alcohol problems.
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