Epidemiology of alcohol use in a group of older American Indians

Lynn P. Lowe*, Cynthia R. Long, Robert B. Wallace, Thomas K. Welty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: This study describes alcohol use in a group of older American Indians and the association with demographic and health status characteristic, by gender. METHODS: Alcohol use was examined in a cross- sectional, population-based study of 161 American Indians, aged 45-76 years (a substudy of the Strong Heart Study). Alcohol use was measured by a questionnaire administered during a personal interview. Information about demographic characteristics and health status was ascertained from interviews and abstraction of medical records. RESULTS: A higher proportion of men than women had used alcohol heavily (71% vs. 28%). Men were more likely than women to drink currently (46% vs. 18%), to binge (26% vs. 5%), and to screen positive for alcoholism (77% vs. 43%). Among current drinkers, > 30% had diabetes, and the average score on the Short Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (SMAST) was in the alcoholic range. Heavy drinking was associated with more symptoms of depression in women (P < 0.05) and fewer in men (P < 0.05). Alcoholism was positively associated with a history of heavy drinking in both men (P < 0.05) and women (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol use was common and varied by gender. Alcohol use also varied according to other sociodemographic and health status characteristics. Since many older American Indians with chronic illness are currently drinking, this age group may require enhanced alcohol control programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1997


  • Aging
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Alcohol drinking
  • Alcoholism
  • North American Indians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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