Problem drinking and associated factors in older adults in South Africa
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Objective: Alcohol abuse poses special risks for increased morbidity and mortality among older adults. Little attention has focused
on assessing alcohol use and associated factors among older adults in transitional societies such as South Africa. This study aimed
to determine the prevalence of alcohol use and associated factors in older South Africans who participated in the Study of Global
Ageing and Adults Health (SAGE) in 2008. Method: We conducted a national population-based cross-sectional study with a sample
of 3840 aged 50 years or older in South Africa in 2008. In this study we analysed data from all 2144 participants who were over 60
years old. The questionnaire included socio-demographic characteristics, alcohol intake as well as comorbidity. Risky drinking was
defined in two ways: heavy drinkers (>7 drinks/week) and binge drinkers (>3 drinks/one occasion/week). Results: Four percent
of participants reported heavy drinking and 3.7% binge drinking. Male gender (Odds Ratio (OR) =3.79, Confidence Interval (CI)
=1.38-10.37) and white population group (OR=3.01, CI=1.31-6.89) were associated with risky drinking in multivariate analysis; as
well as tobacco use (OR=5.25, CI=2.20-12.52) and not being obese (OR=0.14, CI=0.05-0.35). Hypertension, diabetes and
depression were not associated. Conclusion: This study reveals moderate rates of risky drinking among older adults (60 years and
more) in South Africa that puts them at risk of morbidity. Alcohol problems among older adults are commonly under-recognized,
indicating a need for health care worker intervention.