UK Veterans: Hospital & Alcohol Support, Any Link?

Research Paper Title

Do Alcohol Misuse, Service Utilisation, and Demographic Characteristics Differ between UK Veterans and Members of the General Public Attending an NHS General Hospital?

Background

The aim of this paper was to provide insights into alcohol misuse within UK veterans to inform as to whether their presentations differ from the general public.

Methods

This was done by exploring differences in the severity of alcohol misuse between UK veterans and the general public admitted to a general NHS hospital over an 18 month period using retrospective data. All patients admitted to the hospital were screened for alcohol misuse. Those deemed as experiencing problems were referred for specialist nurse-led support. A total of 2331 individuals were referred for this supported and administered with a standardised assessment that included measures of the severity of alcohol difficulties (AUDIT), dependency levels (LDQ), and assessed for the presence of withdrawal symptoms (CIWA-Ar). In addition, information was collected on service utilisation, referral category (medical or mental health), other substance misuse, and demographic characteristics.

Results

No differences were found between the severity of reported alcohol difficulties between veterans and non-veterans. Evidence was found to suggest that veterans were more likely to be referred for support with alcohol difficulties at an older age and to be admitted to hospital for longer periods of time.

Conclusions

This could have considerable cost implications for the NHS. It was more common for veterans to present at hospital with physical health difficulties prior to being referred for support for alcohol.

Reference

Murphy, D., Palmer, E., Westwood, G., Busuttil, W. & Greenberg, N. (2016) Do Alcohol Misuse, Service Utilisation, and Demographic Characteristics Differ between UK Veterans and Members of the General Public Attending an NHS General Hospital? Journal of Clinical Medicine. 5(11), pp.ii: E95.

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