1 Alcohol dependence in a random general population sample and premature mortality after fourteen years Ulrich John, Prof., Hans-Jürgen Rumpf*, PD Dr., Gallus Bischof*, Dr., Ulfert Hapke**, Dr., Monika Hanke, research assistant, Christian Meyer, PD Dr. University Medicine Greifswald, Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Walther-Rathenau-Str. 48, D Greifswald, Germany *University of Lübeck, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ratzeburger Allee 160, D Lübeck, Germany ** Robert-Koch-Institute Berlin, Department of Health Monitoring, General-Pape-Str , D Berlin, Germany, Corresponding author: University Medicine Greifswald, Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Walther-Rathenau-Str. 48, D Greifswald, Germany, fax , phone , Sources of support The data described in this paper are part of the project Transitions in Alcohol Consumption and Smoking (TACOS) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Technology (grant no. 01 EB 9406). The residents registration offices of the city of Lübeck and surrounding communities supported the study by their provision of vital status data.
2 2 Abstract Background: Little is known about predictors of mortality among alcohol dependent individuals recruited from the general population. We sought to estimate whether alcohol dependence treatment utilization, alcohol dependence severity, alcohol-related problems, and self-rated health may predict mortality over 14 years. Methods: General population survey, random sample of general population at age 18 to 64 in one region in Germany. Among 4070 respondents with valid data, 153 alcohol dependent individuals had been identified. For 149 vital status information was provided 14 years later. Baseline data from the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (German version M- CIDI): alcohol dependence treatment utilization, alcohol dependence severity based on number of DSM-IV alcohol dependence diagnostic criteria fulfilled and symptom frequency questionnaire, alcohol-related problems, self-rated general health, cigarettes per day, number of psychiatric disorders according to DSM-IV at baseline. Results: Having taken part in inpatient specialized alcoholism treatment was not related with longer survival than not having taken part. Utilization of inpatient detoxification treatment predicted hazard rate ratio of mortality (unadjusted: 4.2, 90% confidence interval 1.8 to 9.8). Severity of alcohol dependence was associated with utilization of detoxification treatment. Alcohol-related problems and poor self-rated health predicted mortality. Annualized death rates were 4.6-fold for females and 1.9-fold for males compared to the age- and sex-specific general population. Conclusions: Inpatient specialized alcohol dependence treatment did not seem to have sufficient protective effect against dying prematurely. Having been in detoxification treatment only, severity of alcohol dependence, alcohol-related problems, and self-rated health may be predictors of time to death among this general population sample. According to high excess mortality, particular focus should be put on females.
3 3 Introduction Alcohol dependence treatment utilization might be related with mortality according to two factors. First, it may be expected that treatment adds to a decrease of risks to die prematurely. Second, treatment self-selection might take place in the way that higher alcohol dependence severity or more alcohol-related problems are associated with treatment use (Moos and Moos, 2004) and mortality, treatment use being a mediator. Among alcohol dependent individuals who had been identified in a general population sample in the USA, 22.7 % had utilized formal treatment including detoxification or specialized alcohol dependence treatment or both (Dawson et al., 2006). Among those who ever sought help, a trend was found towards more alcohol dependence symptoms and a higher proportion of individuals with multiple episodes of dependence compared to those who never sought help (Dawson et al., 2006). Among those who ever sought help, more were recovered with abstinence than among those who had never sought help (Dawson et al., 2006). Alcohol dependence severity might be one driving force in the known relation between alcohol consumption and death (Breslow and Graubard, 2008; Poikolainen et al., 2011; Thun et al., 1997). Alcohol dependence severity can be expressed by two approaches: first, number of alcohol syndrome criteria (Dawson et al., 2010), and second, the frequency of alcohol dependence symptoms (Dawson and Grant, 2010). Each of these two approaches has its own advantages such as diagnosis provided by an expert or low costs. For the purpose of measuring symptom frequency questionnaires had been developed: the Short Alcohol Dependence Data (SADD) (Davidson and Raistrick, 1986), the Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire (SADQ) (Stockwell et al., 1983), the Alcohol Dependence Scale (ADS) (Skinner and Allen, 1982), and the Severity Scale of Alcohol Dependence (SESA) (John et al., 2003). Few general population studies provided data about alcohol dependence severity and mortality years later. In a Korean community the SADQ turned out to predict
4 4 mortality (Min et al., 2008). In a sample of first contact treatment seekers severity of alcohol dependence assessed by the ADS turned out to be related with mortality (Timko et al., 2006). Limitations of the research include that no evidence seems to exist about relations of alcohol dependence severity with mortality from general population samples, with dependence severity being based on the number of dependence criteria and on standardized questionnaires according to the frequency of symptoms as well. Alcohol-related problems predicted relapse to drinking after sixteen years among individuals who had sought treatment of their alcohol use disorder (Moos and Moos, 2006). Self-reported general health has been revealed by several studies to be associated with number of health disorders (Galenkamp et al., 2011) and with mortality (Jylha, 2009). However, little is known about this relation in alcohol dependent individuals among the general population. Further characteristics of alcohol dependence such as high prevalence of smoking and psychiatric comorbidity (Lawrence et al., 2010) have also been revealed by data to be related with mortality (Campos et al., 2011). Number of psychiatric diagnoses might be understood as an indicator of disease burden in addition to severity of alcohol dependence. According to excess mortality, data from two non-clinical male samples revealed that among those with alcohol dependence according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM), Version III, the death rates were two- to threefold the expected rate among the general population (Vaillant, 2003). Clinical sample data also revealed excess mortality of alcohol dependent patients (Campos et al., 2011; Mann et al., 2005). Annualized death rates, i. e. the mortality proportion divided by the number of years under inspection, of 1.2 % to 3.7 % had been reported (Campos et al., 2011; Finney and Moos, 1991; Mann et al., 2005; Timko et al., 2006). One study found 1.4 % among males and
5 5 1.0 % among females (Timko et al., 2006). Annualized death rates have not been sufficiently adjusted to age-period-cohort effects. Limitations of the evidence include that samples have largely not been drawn at random from the general population with alcohol dependence diagnosis being provided according to standards of DSM or the International Classification of Diseases. Studies with vital status follow-up did not include proper assessments of alcohol dependence severity and alcoholrelated problems among alcohol dependent populations. The aim of the present paper is to estimate whether alcohol dependence treatment utilization, alcohol dependence severity, alcohol-related problems and self-rated health may predict time to death 14 years after baseline among individuals who had received a diagnosis of alcohol dependence according to DSM-IV in a random adult general population survey. We analyzed whether among individuals with more intense alcohol dependence severity or alcohol-related problems more participate in treatment than among alcohol dependent individuals with less intense severity or alcohol-related problems. Since the sample included individuals who never had taken part in alcohol dependence treatment, it may be expected that excess mortality compared to the age- and sex-adjusted general population is present but lower than in treatment samples found before. Materials and Methods Sample In a northern German area a random sample of adults at age 18 to 64 had been drawn, and 4093 interviews were completed, i. e % of those who had been eligible for the interview (Meyer et al., 2000a). Among the interviews, 4075 could be analyzed. Lifetime prevalence of alcohol dependence was 3.8 % (Meyer et al., 2000a). This corresponds to 153 individuals.
6 6 The baseline survey had been carried out from July 1996 to March 1997 in the city of Lübeck and 46 surrounding communities. The general population of this area at age 18 to 64 and with German nationality was 193,452 (Meyer et al., 2000a). All study participants had been selected using the residents registration files. Every resident has to be registered in these files by law in Germany. From June 06, 2010, to December 15, 2010, vital status of the 153 alcohol dependent individuals was verified. Four individuals could not be relocated due to having been moved to a foreign country or by having lived of no fixed abode. Our final sample included 149 individuals with a diagnosis of alcohol dependence in the year 1996/97 and with known vital status in the year Assessments According to premature mortality, vital status information (alive or date of death and current living address) was provided by the local residence registration offices on all 149 individuals of the final sample on our request. Premature death was defined as having been deceased before sex specific age of life expectancy in Germany in the year 2009 which was the most recent year available at the time of data analysis. For females, life expectancy at birth was 82.5 and for males 77.3 years (Statistisches Bundesamt (Federal Statistics Office), 2011b). All other assessments had been made by baseline interview of study participants (Meyer et al., 2000b). It included the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) in its version M- CIDI (Wittchen et al., 1995). The M-CIDI provided the diagnoses of alcohol dependence (current: past 12 months, remitted: lifetime but not in the past 12 months) and of affective, anxiety, eating, somatoform and other substance use disorders based on DSM-IV (Meyer et al., 2000b).
7 7 According to alcohol dependence therapy, we assessed whether the individual had taken part in inpatient specialized alcohol dependence treatment, inpatient detoxification or outpatient alcohol dependence treatment. Inpatient specialized alcohol dependence treatment in Germany includes group treatment of problems related to alcohol dependence with the focus on supporting the patient to live abstinently. Nationwide, such treatment took in the mean 122 days for males and 121 days for females in the year 1996 (Hüllinghorst, 1997). Detoxification inpatient treatment in Germany is medical assistance of alcohol withdrawal and is usually provided by psychiatric or general hospitals. We also assessed whether the individuals had participated in alcohol dependence self-help groups. Alcohol dependence severity was estimated by two approaches. For the first approach we used the number of alcohol dependence criteria according to DSM-IV. The range of the number of criteria fulfilled during lifetime was 3 to 7. The second approach is based on the frequency of alcohol dependence symptoms as stated by the alcohol dependent individual. We used the SESA (John et al., 2003) as a scale to be filled in during the computer-assisted interview. The SESA had been developed as a psychometrically sound measure based on selfreport of the study participants. It is based on items from earlier established questionnaires about alcohol dependence severity: the SADQ, the SADD, and the ADS (John et al., 2003). We used the SESA with the subscales: narrowing of drinking repertoire, somatic withdrawal symptoms, alcohol consumption to avoid symptoms, craving, increase of tolerance, extreme increase of tolerance, and decrease of tolerance (John et al., 2003). The SESA sum score in our final sample included 28 items with 62 ranks and an empirical value range from 0 to 79. To estimate alcohol-related problems that have been associated with alcohol consumption we applied the 9-item Adverse Consequences from Drinking scale (ACD) (Moos et al., 1985). It covers problems from drinking in the past 6 months prior to the interview according to health,
8 8 work, financial resources, family, having been involved in fights, problems with neighbors, police, friends, driving while intoxicated. The ACD was Likert-scaled with 5 ranks from never to often for each item (Moos et al., 1985). The ACD sum score included 18 ranks that have been empirically found in our final sample with a value range of 9 to 32. To estimate self-rated general health we used the item How is your health in general? with a five-point scale from 1 to 5 (poor, fair, good, very good, excellent). The total number of psychiatric disorders was calculated according to the diagnoses provided by the M-CIDI. We assessed daily tobacco smoking according to the M-CIDI. This includes cigarettes smoked per day (cpd) during the time in life when cigarette consumption was highest, age at onset of daily smoking, and age at termination of smoking. We calculated pack-years of cigarette smoking by the number of cpd smoked at the time when cpd was highest divided by 20 times the number of years smoked in life and considered never smokers as 0. Data analysis Data analysis was performed in five steps using STATA/MP 11.1: First, descriptive data including proportions of deceased study participants were provided (Table 1). Second, we calculated the hazard rate ratio (HRR) according to the Cox proportional hazard model using univariate analysis and, third, multivariate analysis (Table 2). We fitted two models. In model 1, we used specialized alcohol dependence treatment and detoxification treatment utilization, alcohol dependence severity, and the rank sum score of alcohol-related problems, self-rated health, and adjusted for pack-years of smoking, age, and sex. Alcohol dependence severity according to each of the two assessment approaches was included. We used quintiles of the SESA sum score in order to ease comparisons with the number of criteria of alcohol dependence. In model 2 the number of psychiatric disorders was added to the variables of model 1. Fourth, according to alcohol dependence treatment, we tested a mediation effect of
9 9 treatment. Severity should have been associated with treatment at baseline (Table 3), and treatment should predict mortality risk. After adding treatment participation to the multivariate predictor model with alcohol dependence severity as a predictor of mortality risk prediction of mortality by severity should be attenuated (Vittinghoff et al., 2005). We used Sobel-Goodman mediation tests (sgmediation in STATA). Fifth, for reasons of comparison with earlier evidence annualized death rates were calculated by dividing the proportion of deceased individuals in our sample through the number of follow-up years (Finney and Moos, 1991; Timko et al., 2006). To compare with the equivalent annual death rate in the general population of Germany we used the proportions of deceased residents of Germany each year from 1997 to 2010 among the population aged 18 to 64 in 1997 and for each following year among the population that was one year older than that of the year before. The mean annualized death rates of these 14 proportions of deceased residents were 0.36 % of the ageand sex-specified female population, 0.66 % of the age- and sex-specified male population, and 0.51 % of the age- and sex-specified total population (Statistisches Bundesamt (Federal Statistics Office), 2011a). We performed all data analyses with the final sample. Six missing values were present in each of 22 of the SESA items and one missing value in age of onset of daily smoking. These missing values were substituted by means of sex-specific age groups. We focused on estimation of effects and included 90 % confidence intervals. We also provided p-values that correspond to 95 % confidence intervals. Results Among the 149 alcohol dependent individuals of the final sample, 28 (18.8 %) were deceased in the follow-up time frame of fourteen years from baseline (Table 1). Inpatient specialized alcohol dependence treatment had been utilized by 34 study participants (22.8 %), only inpatient detoxification by 10 participants (6.7 %). Outpatient treatment only, i. e. without additional inpatient treatment, had not been utilized, and there were 5 respondents (3.4 %)
10 10 who had participated in alcohol dependence self-help groups but not in treatment. The data revealed that 5 of the 10 individuals who had been inpatients in detoxification treatment only had been deceased 14 years after baseline. Further analysis, not presented in Table 1, revealed that among those who had five or more alcohol dependence criteria fulfilled and who had participated in any alcohol dependence inpatient treatment, 32.5 %, among those who had not undergone inpatient alcohol dependence treatment, 16.1 % died in the follow-up time of fourteen years. Univariate survival analyses revealed a HRR of 4.2 (90 % CI ) for mortality among study participants who had been in inpatient detoxification treatment only compared to those who had never been in inpatient alcohol dependence treatment (Table 2). Inpatient specialized alcohol dependence treatment participation did not differ from having no alcohol dependence treatment with respect to survival. Severity of alcohol dependence turned out to be inversely related with survival independent of the approach that had been chosen to estimate alcohol dependence severity. With each additional dependence criterion, the hazard for mortality was 31 % higher than among those who had the minimum number of three criteria fulfilled. A 33 % higher mortality risk was found for each of the second to the fifth quintile of alcohol dependence symptom frequency according to the SESA, the lowest quintile being the reference. In multivariate survival analysis, detoxification treatment and alcohol-related problems turned out to be predictors after adjustment for pack-years smoked, age, and sex (Table 2). Individuals who had been in inpatient detoxification but not in specialized alcohol dependence treatment had a three- to fourfold HRR compared to those who had never utilized any inpatient alcohol dependence treatment. Severity of alcohol dependence was insignificant in both models. Mortality risk increased by 7 to 9 % with each of the 18 ranks according to
11 11 the ACD sum score. Self-rated health predicted survival time. With each rank better than poor health mortality risk decreased by 52 to 59 %. Number of psychiatric disorders other than alcohol dependence was not related to mortality risk. We explored whether detoxification treatment participation may have mediated an effect of alcohol dependence severity on mortality. At baseline, detoxification treatment participation had been associated with severity (Table 3), both with number of alcohol dependence criteria and frequency of alcohol symptoms, and also after adjustment for alcohol-related problems. Detoxification treatment participation predicted mortality risk. The Sobel-Goodman mediation test coefficients turned out to be significant (p <.05). In the total sample, an annualized death rate of 1.34 % was found. Among female alcohol dependent individuals, 23.3 %, and among male alcohol dependent individuals, 17.6 % had died what is equal to annualized death rates of 1.67 % for females and 1.26 % for males. Age at death ranged from 35 to 71 years. Its mean was 60 years (SD: 12) for females and 58 years (SD: 11) for males, the median being 60 years for females and 62 years for males. The mean number of years from baseline until death was 7.2 (SD: 3.2; median: 7.1). Discussion This study revealed three main findings from a random adult general population sample that included individuals who never had been in alcohol dependence treatment and individuals after participation in inpatient alcohol dependence treatment. First, having utilized inpatient specialized alcohol dependence treatment did not turn out to be related with longer survival than never having been in inpatient treatment. Second, detoxification treatment, alcohol dependence severity, alcohol-related problems, and self-rated health predicted time to death.
12 12 Third, the data revealed excess mortality for general population recruited alcohol dependent individuals compared to the age- and sex-adjusted general population. Participation in specialized alcohol dependence treatment should be expected to increase the likelihood to live without drinking alcohol and hence increase survival time even if patients have a higher alcohol dependence severity than those who did not take part in treatment. Our data do not support this expectation. This seems to be in contrast to evidence that treatment has an effect on recovery (Dawson et al., 2006). Our results support evidence that only a minority of alcohol dependent individuals among the general population utilizes alcohol dependence treatment (Dawson et al., 2006). A challenge may be to reach more alcohol dependent individuals early in their life course. The findings support the assumption that such an approach might contribute to curb mortality among alcohol dependent individuals. The treatment system did not seem to be efficacious enough to prevent alcohol dependent subpopulations sufficiently from premature death. Inpatient detoxification treatment participation was related to higher mortality risk compared to those who had never participated in alcohol dependence treatment, and alcohol dependence severity was related to utilization of inpatient detoxification treatment. A mediation effect of detoxification treatment utilization is suggested by the Sobel-Goodman-test scores of mediation. Those who had a higher severity of alcohol dependence were more likely to have taken part in detoxification treatment. Alcohol dependence severity might be a predictor of mortality mediated by detoxification treatment. Also, alcohol-related problems predicted time to death. This is plausible in the light of data that revealed lower abstinence rates among those alcohol dependent individuals after treatment who had more lifetime alcohol-related problems compared to those with less alcohol-related problems (Moos and Moos, 2006). Our data
13 13 confirm findings that self-rated health, assessed with just one question, predicts mortality (Galenkamp et al., 2011; Jylha, 2009). Excess mortality is clearly expressed by the data. In our sample that included a majority of participants who had not been in treatment the annualized death rate of 1.7 % for female alcohol dependent individuals is 4.6-fold, the rate of 1.3 % for male participants is 1.9-fold the annual death rate among the age and sex-equivalent national general population in the years from baseline to follow-up (0.36 % for females and 0.66 % for males). Death among all 28 alcohol dependent individuals occurred prematurely, none of the deceased had reached the age of life expectancy for the German national population. We have minimized age-periodcohort effects by using annual mortality rates of the national population that corresponded exactly to age and sex in our sample during each of the 14 years of follow-up. Our results support evidence that revealed excess mortality among alcohol dependent individuals from two socially different male samples with a two- to three-fold mortality compared to the general population (Vaillant, 2003). Our findings correspond also to excess death rates found in clinical samples (Finney and Moos, 1991; Mann et al., 2005; Timko et al., 2006), including former treatment participants over 16 years (Mann et al., 2005). The present results do not confirm the assumption that among alcohol dependent individuals in the general population mortality excess is lower than in alcohol dependent individuals from clinical samples. One reason may be that our data revealed a much higher excess in mortality among alcohol dependent women than among alcohol dependent men. This finding suggests that women with alcohol dependence should be considered at higher risk of premature death compared to alcohol dependent men what is also suggested by evidence that seems to reveal higher relative risks for several alcohol-attributable causes of death among severely drinking women than among severely drinking men (Zaridze et al., 2009).
14 14 Both approaches to assess dependence severity seemed to be predictive to largely the same extent. Both approaches are based on the number of alcohol dependence symptoms but the SESA questionnaire provides additional self-statement information about the frequency of the symptoms, and it is probably the more cost-saving way to gather data about alcohol dependence symptoms. The results support other general population data about associations between symptom frequency and treatment utilization (Dawson and Grant, 2010; Dawson et al., 2010) and the relation between alcohol dependence according to the SADQ and mortality (Min et al., 2008). The number of psychiatric disorders did not improve prediction of mortality within the follow-up time. Reasons might be that only specific psychiatric comorbidity such as major depressive disorder may have an effect. To provide evidence to such a hypothesis the number of cases might have been too low. A strength of this study is that standardized alcohol dependence and further psychiatric diagnoses have been provided in an adult general population sample at baseline. However, four limitations should be considered: First, the number of death cases is only 28. This low number might conceal effects in subgroups such as individuals with psychiatric comorbidity. Second, our study did not include causes of death. Third, our results relate to one region of Germany only. Fourth, we have no data about further help-seeking that may have taken place in the follow-up time span. It may be concluded from our findings that inpatient treatment utilization in our study may not have had a sufficiently protective effect against dying prematurely. Having been in inpatient detoxification treatment only, severity of alcohol dependence, alcohol-related problems, and poor self-rated general health may be main predictors of premature death
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