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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

IUPUI Researcher Finds Higher Prevalence of PTSD in Heavy Drinking Individuals

Not much is known about the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in patients with alcoholic hepatitis (AH). Yet, PTSD and other behavioral disorders may be associated with relapse to alcohol. With abstinence from alcohol directly impacting the survival of those who suffer from AH, understanding the prevalence of PTSD in these patients may lead to screening and appropriate intervention for this population.

In a recent study conducted by Dr. Spencer Lourens, assistant professor of biostatistics at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health – Indianapolis, heavy drinking individuals with or without alcoholic hepatitis, were found to have significantly higher prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder compared to previously reported prevalence in general population.

Lifetime prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in general population is reported to be 6.8 percent. While individuals with alcohol dependence and substance abusers have high prevalence of PTSD, the prevalence of PTSD in heavy drinkers with alcoholic hepatitis is not known.

Through a study to determine the prevalence of PTSD in heavy drinkers with and without alcoholic hepatitis, Dr. Lourens and his colleagues screened for PTSD using a Primary Care-PTSD questionnaire among 115 heavy drinkers with alcoholic hepatitis and 64 heavy drinkers without alcoholic hepatitis. Those being screened participated in a multicenter observational study in which they were followed up to 12 months following their enrollment.

The study found the prevalence of PTSD in heavy drinkers with alcoholic hepatitis was 34 percent and was not different from heavy drinking controls without liver disease (34 percent).

In the entire group screened for PTSD, the presence of PTSD was associated with higher alcohol consumption – average drinks per last 30 days and average grams of alcohol consumed per day – (p = 0.047 for both tests), but not associated with relapse of heavy drinking or mortality. Similarly, patients with alcoholic hepatitis and PTSD did not have higher relapse rate, or higher mortality compared to patients with alcoholic hepatitis but no PTSD.

The study, entitled “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Patients with Heavy Alcohol Consumption and Alcoholic Hepatitis,” is published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.