Characteristics, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Alcoholism in Elderly Patients

J. Randall Curtis, Gail Geller, Emma J. Stokes, David M. Levine, Richard D. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to examine the ability of physicians to diagnose alcoholism in the elderly patient and to define characteristics specific to the elderly patient with alcoholism. During a 3‐month period, all new admissions to the medical service of The Johns Hopkins Hospital were screened for alcoholism with two screening tests (the CAGE questionnaire and Short Michigan Alcohol Screening Test). The prevalence of screen‐positive alcoholism was 27% in patients under 60 years of age and 21% in patients 60 years and older. Elderly patients with alcoholism were more likely to be black (P < .01), but did not differ significantly in any other way from elderly patients who did not have alcoholism. Although 60% of screen‐positive young patients with alcoholism were identified by their houseofficers, only 37% of elderly patients with screenpositive alcoholism were so identified (P < .05). The elderly patients with alcoholism were significantly less likely to be diagnosed by their houseofficer if they were white, female, or had completed high school (P < .01). Even when diagnosed, elderly patients with alcoholism were less likely than younger patients with alcoholism to have treatment recommended by their houseofficers (P < .05) and, if treatment were recommended, it was less likely to be initiated (P < .05). These data suggest that current medical education is deficient in providing physicians with the skills to detect and treat elderly patients with alcoholism. 1989 The American Geriatrics Society

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-316
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Characteristics, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Alcoholism in Elderly Patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this