Mortality in male alcoholics after ten to fourteen years
Objective: Alcoholics frequently die prematurely. The purpose of this study was to determine: (1) whether subjects in a sample of 360 male alcoholics, followed over a period of 10-14 years, died prematurely; (2) if so, from what causes; and (3) whether such deaths are predictable from characteristics present at initial assessment. Method: Subjects were male veterans (N = 360) with a diagnosis of alcoholism admitted to an inpatient substance abuse treatment program at the Kansas City Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center during 1980-1984 who consented to participate in intake evaluations and subsequent follow-ups at 1 year and 10-14 years later. Of the 357 (99.2%) men located at the 10-14 year follow-up, 96 (26.6%) were confirmed as deceased, 255 survivors agreed to be reassessed and 6 subjects refused reassessment. Information regarding cause of death was obtained from death certificates, VA records and other sources. Results: At intake, the subsequently deceased men were older, had less education, lower psychosocial functioning, more medical problems and greater psychiatric severity. Their overall death rate was 2.5 times greater than that of a reference group of men. Men in the 35-44 year age group were 5.5 times as likely to die. A statistical model utilizing measures of alcohol dependence to predict mortality from intake to 10-14 year follow-up indicated that alcoholics who limited drinking were half as likely to die whereas those who engaged in morning drinking were 2.5 times more likely to die. Conclusions: Alcoholic men, especially those in the group aged 35 to 44 years, have a significantly higher risk of premature death than a reference group of men. Men who engaged in morning drinking and could not limit drinking appeared to be at higher risk of mortality 10 years later.