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Alcohol Consumption by Older People in Brazil

A Systematic Review of Population-based Studies

Chagas, Camila MS*; Paula, Tassiane C.S. MS*; Machado, Danusa de Almeida MS*; Martins, Leonardo B. PhD; Opaleye, Davi MS*; Piedade, Tatiani MS*; Galduróz, José Carlos Fernandes PhD*; Ferri, Cleusa P. PhD*,‡

Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment: December 2019 - Volume 18 - Issue 4 - p 229–237
doi: 10.1097/ADT.0000000000000168
Original Articles

Introduction: Given the rapid population aging taking place in countries like Brazil and in many other countries, understanding patterns of alcohol consumption by older people and the associated factors are important.

Methods: The databases MEDLINE, Embase, and LILACS were searched for population-based studies on the prevalence of current alcohol consumption among Brazilians aged over 60.

Results: Eight eligible studies were identified. Two studies reported data on binge drinking, with one national study finding a prevalence of 10.3%, while the other (male subjects only) found higher prevalences (27.1% and 13.7% at 2 sites). Heavy drinking was estimated in 4 studies with prevalences varying from 2.9% to 7.3%. Alcohol dependence was estimated in 3 studies, 1 used the DSM-IV diagnosis criteria and found a prevalence of 3.8%, while the other 2 used screening tools and found higher prevalences of 8.2% and 9.2%. Being male and younger were associated with several of the above patterns of alcohol consumption. Higher education was associated with binge and heavy drinking, and low education and socioeconomic status with alcohol dependence.

Discussion/Conclusions: These findings show that in Brazil problems related to alcohol use by the elderly remain relatively unknown. There was a high heterogeneity of methodologies in the studies, making it difficult to summarize the findings and produce prevalence estimates for the different patterns of consumption. More homogenous studies using similar definitions of patterns of alcohol consumption are required to allow comparisons to be made between different Brazilian regions and other countries.

*Department of Psychobiology, Federal University of São Paulo

Laboratory of Anomalistic Psychology and Psychosocial Processes, Institute of Psychology, Inter Psi, University of São Paulo

Institute of Education and Health Sciences, Health Technology Assessment Unit, Oswaldo Cruz German Hospital, São Paulo, Brazil

Supported by the following funding sources: FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation), grant ref. number 2015/19472-5. The following authors were supported by Brazilian government agencies: C.C., C.P.F., T.C.S.P., and T.P. by the CNPQ (The National Council for Scientific and Technological Development). D.d.A.M. by CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Level Personnel). L.B.M. by FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation).

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Camila Chagas, MS, Federal University of São Paulo, Botucatu Street 862, Vila Clementino, São Paulo 04023-062, Brazil (e-mail:

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