INTENTION TO CHANGE DRINKING BEHAVIOUR IN GENERAL PRACTICE PATIENTS WITH PROBLEMATIC DRINKING AND COMORBID DEPRESSION OR ANXIETY


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Abstract

AimsThis paper examines the interaction of intention to change drinking behaviour with comorbid depression and anxiety in pro-actively recruited individuals with a range of drinking problems.MethodsCross-sectional data of 408 general practice (GP) patients aged 18–64 years, who meet the diagnostic criteria of alcohol dependence or abuse according to DSM-IV, criteria of at-risk drinking or binge drinking, were drawn from a brief intervention study. Of the sample, 89 participants were diagnosed with comorbid anxiety and/or depressive disorders. The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of behaviour change constructs: stages and processes of change, self-efficacy, and decisional balance were assessed in relation to presence and absence of the respective psychiatric disorders.ResultsAnalysis including all categories of problematic drinking revealed comorbid anxiety and/or depression to be significantly related to later stages of change. Within subgroups, this was only true for alcohol abuse, not for dependence, at-risk or binge drinking. In addition, comorbidity was related to higher use of processes of change and more pros and cons of drinking, when compared to non-comorbid participants. Comorbid individuals showed higher temptation to drink and lower self-efficacy to abstain from drinking. Separate analyses of readiness to change drinking between the categories anxiety/no comorbidity and depression/no comorbidity both obtained significance, while for anxiety disorders, this was more profound. A multinomial logistic regression analysis revealed that adverse consequences better predicted readiness to change when compared to comorbidity.DiscussionIndividuals with problematic drinking and comorbid anxiety or depression may be well accessible for pro-active intervention to reduce drinking. Strategies should focus on the enhancement of coping skills to control temptation and self-efficacy.

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