A New Paradigm for Alcohol Use in Older Persons

Published in: Medical Care, v. 37, no. 2, Feb. 1999, p. 165-176

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1999

by Alison A. Moore, Sally C. Morton, John Beck, Ron D. Hays, Sabine M. Oishi, Jennifer M. Partridge, Barbara Genovese, Arlene Fink

Read More

Access further information on this document at www.lww-medicalcare.com

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Current paradigms for conceptualizing alcohol-related problems typically focus on persons who are abusing or dependent on alcohol. These paradigms may not apply to older drinkers whose alcohol use, regardless of consumption level, can cause problems because of age-related changes in physiology and interactions with increased morbidity, medication use, and functional limitations. The authors convened an expert panel to develop clinical indications of harmful, hazardous, and nonhazardous drinking in persons 65 years of age and older. Nine panelists with expertise in psychiatry, geriatrics, internal medicine, and alcohol research were provided with epidemiological data and a published explicit literature review of alcohol use in the elderly. The RAND/UCLA two-round panel method was used to develop the indications. After the second round, the authors wrote a draft statement that was circulated to the panelists whose comments were incorporated into a final document. Panelists agreed on 215 scenarios in which older peoples' use of alcohol either alone or in the presence of chronic medical conditions, medication use, symptoms, smoking, and functional limitations are hazardous or harmful. Panelists' ratings of risk did not differ significantly between persons aged 65 to 74 years and those aged 75 years and older. Alcohol use may be hazardous or harmful for older persons, particularly in conjunction with physical or emotional illnesses, medication use, functional limitations, smoking, and driving after drinking. When asking about alcohol use in older persons, clinicians need to be aware of these factors to assist in identifying and managing potential or actual alcohol-related problems.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.