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Alcohol drinking patterns and medical care use in an HMO setting

The objective of this study was to examine the association of medical care use (outpatient visits and hospitalization) with alcohol drinking patterns in a large health maintenance organization (HMO). Data were gathered from a random sample of 10,292 adult respondents through a telephone survey conducted between June 1994 and February 1996. Findings indicate that current nondrinkers with no past history of drinking had higher rates of outpatient visits and hospitalizations than current drinkers. Among current drinkers, medical care use declined slightly as drinking levels increased. Among nondrinkers, those with a drinking history exhibited significantly higher use of outpatient visits and hospital care than nondrinkers with no drinking history and current drinkers. Controlling for demographic and socioeconomic factors, health status, and common medical conditions in multivariate analyses suggests that nondrinkers with a drinking history use more services because they are sicker than other nondrinkers or current drinkers.

Authors: Rice DP; Conell C; Weisner C; Hunkeler EM; Fireman B; Hu TW

J Behav Health Serv Res. 2000 Feb;27(1):3-16.

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