Home > Scoping review of assessment tools for, magnitudes of and factors associated with problem drinking in population-based studies.

Dagne, Kefyalew and Myers, Bronwyn and Mihretu, Awoke and Teferra, Solomon (2024) Scoping review of assessment tools for, magnitudes of and factors associated with problem drinking in population-based studies. BMJ Open, 14, (3), e080657. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2023-080657.

External website: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/14/3/e080657.long

BACKGROUND: The term "problem drinking" includes a spectrum of alcohol problems ranging from excessive or heavy drinking to alcohol use disorder. Problem drinking is a leading risk factor for death and disability globally. It has been measured and conceptualised in different ways, which has made it difficult to identify common risk factors for problem alcohol use. This scoping review aims to synthesise what is known about the assessment of problem drinking, its magnitude and associated factors.

METHODS: Four databases (PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, Global Index Medicus) and Google Scholar were searched from inception to 25 November 2023. Studies were eligible if they focused on people aged 15 and above, were population-based studies reporting problem alcohol use and published in the English language. This review was reported based on guidelines from the 'Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews Checklist'. Critical appraisal was done using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale.

RESULTS: From the 14 296 records identified, 10 749 underwent title/abstract screening, of which 352 full-text articles were assessed, and 81 articles were included for data extraction. Included studies assessed alcohol use with self-report quantity/frequency questionnaires, criteria to determine risky single occasion drinking, validated screening tools, or structured clinical and diagnostic interviews. The most widely used screening tool was the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test. Studies defined problem drinking in various ways, including excessive/heavy drinking, binge drinking, alcohol use disorder, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Across studies, the prevalence of heavy drinking ranged from <1.0% to 53.0%, binge drinking from 2.7% to 48.2%, alcohol abuse from 4.0% to 19.0%, alcohol dependence from 0.1% to 39.0% and alcohol use disorder from 2.0% to 66.6%. Factors associated with problem drinking varied across studies. These included sociodemographic and economic factors (age, sex, relationship status, education, employment, income level, religion, race, location and alcohol outlet density) and clinical factors (like medical problems, mental disorders, other substance use and quality of life).

CONCLUSIONS: Due to differences in measurement, study designs and assessed risk factors, the prevalence of and factors associated with problem drinking varied widely across studies and settings. The alcohol field would benefit from harmonised measurements of alcohol use and problem drinking as this would allow for comparisons to be made across countries and for meta-analyses to be conducted.

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