Alcohol and Aging: A Cross-Gender Comparison

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Measures of psychosocial functioning were presented through structured interviews of alcoholic and nonalcoholic males and females over 55 years of age. Measures included the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST), the Heimler Scale of Social Functioning (HSSF), and several scales from the Scheidt-Windley (S-W) study of rural elderly. Main effects were found for gender on the MAST (males more severe) and the S-W activity participation subscale (higher for females). Main-effect differences for alcohol were found on the HSSF (alcoholics more negative). There was one interaction. Male alcoholics had higher MAST scores than females, with the opposite finding for the comparison group. The S-W scales indicated that alcoholics were more pathological and alienated. Results are discussed in terms of the devastating psychological and social effects of alcohol on older individuals and the need to focus treatment on those problems.

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