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Keywords:

  • Alcohol abuse;
  • alcohol dependence;
  • comorbidity;
  • Singapore

ABSTRACT

Aims  To establish the prevalence, correlates, comorbidity and treatment gap of alcohol use disorders in the Singapore resident population.

Design  The Singapore Mental Health Study is a cross-sectional epidemiological survey.

Setting  A nationally representative survey of the resident (citizens and permanent residents) population in Singapore.

Participants  A total of 6616 Singaporean adults aged 18 years and older.

Measurements  The diagnoses were established using the World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI) diagnostic modules for life-time and 12-month prevalence of selected mental illnesses including alcohol use disorders.

Findings  The life-time prevalence of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence was 3.1% and 0.5%, while the 12-month prevalence of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence was 0.5% and 0.3%, respectively. The life-time and 12-month prevalence of alcohol use disorders was 3.6% and 0.8%, respectively. Those with alcohol use disorder had significantly higher odds of having major depressive disorder [odds ratio (OR) 3.1] and nicotine dependence (OR 4.5). Compared to the rest of the population, those with an alcohol use disorder had significantly higher odds of having gastric ulcers (OR 3.0), respiratory conditions (OR 2.1) and chronic pain (OR 2.1). Only one in five of those with alcohol use disorder had ever sought treatment.

Conclusions  The prevalence of alcohol use disorders is relatively low in the Singapore adult population. Comorbidity with mental and physical disorders is significant, emphasizing the need to screen people with alcohol use disorders for these comorbidities.