Screening for Hazardous/Harmful Drinking and Depressive Symptoms in an At-Risk Emergency Department Population

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Journal of Addictions Nursing






Informa Healthcare

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Although co-occurring alcohol use and depression have been identified in many populations, wide-spread screening for these disorders has not occurred in many Emergency Departments (EDs). Co-morbidity of alcohol use and mood disorders places a person at increased risk for psychosocial and medical-physical problems. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between hazardous/harmful alcohol use and depressive symptoms in an urban ED population of problem drinkers and risky drivers. Cross-sectional data from the baseline interview of a randomized controlled trial of a brief intervention protocol to reduce problem drinking and risky driving in the ED population were used to test the study hypothesis. Data were collected using the Health Interview Schedule, a modification of the WHO Composite Interview Schedule, with addition of the AUDIT questionnaire and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Short Depression Scale (CES-D 10). Data from a sample of 255 individuals (68% male) were used in the present study (age: M = 28.38, CES-D 10: M = 9.79, SD = 6.22, AUDIT: M = 8.10, SD = 4.13). Multiple regression analyses indicated that total CES-D 10 scores were significantly associated with total AUDIT scores, drinks per week, income, and gender [F (4, 242) = 3.81, p = .005, R2 = .06]. Total AUDIT scores were positively associated with CES-D 10 scores (p < .001). Due to co-morbidities associated with co-occurring depressive symptoms and hazardous/harmful drinking, it is imperative to assess ED patients for both of these conditions to provide expedient, optimal referral and treatment for patients at risk, particularly for patients injured in vehicular collisions because of their risky driving.