Objective: The aim of this study was to describe prevalence of alcohol misuse and smoking among individuals with amputations as a result of peripheral arterial disease before surgery and 12 mos after surgery, changes in these behaviors over time, and factors associated with change.
Design: This is a prospective cohort study of 75 veterans experiencing their first major unilateral amputation. Measures included demographic and general health information, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, smoking behaviors, and social support.
Results: Sixteen percent of the participants reported engaging in alcohol misuse at presurgical baseline; and 13% at 12 mos after amputation. Thirty-seven percent of the participants were categorized as smokers at baseline; this number dropped to 29% at 12 mos after amputation. Among those who decreased drinking and quit smoking, there was a trend indicating greater social support.
Conclusions: The participants endorsed drinking and smoking behaviors at levels consistent with other types of disability and with veterans using the Veterans Health Administration for their health care. Even with a variety of health concerns, after amputation, most of the smokers and those engaging in alcohol misuse continued to smoke and drink at their preamputation rate. The presence of social support may encourage health behavior change and is an important area for future research and intervention.