Alcohol use among adults with mild to severe disability is an under researched topic in the literature. Few studies have attempted to assess the impact of alcohol misuse, abuse, and chronic alcoholism among this target group. Thus, we investigated the association between chronic alcoholism and mortality among disabled individuals in South Korea.
We used data from the National Health Insurance Service National Sample Cohort (NHIS-NSC) for the years 2003-2013, which included data on 61,013 disabled individuals. Among these patients, a multivariate Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate the hazard ratio of mortality associated with chronic alcoholism.
A total of 800 individuals died during the study period. Individuals who had medical claims for chronic alcoholism following their disability diagnosis had greater risk of mortality than individuals without chronic alcoholism (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.57, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.06-2.31, p=0.0244). Individuals with a physical disability (HR: 2.30, 95% CI: 1.06-4.95, p=0.0342), brain lesion (HR: 1.96, 95% CI: 1.03-3.74, p=0.0405), and/or kidney failure (HR: 4.98, 95% CI: 1.07-23.25, p=0.0411) had greatest mortality risk when diagnosed with chronic alcoholism, compared to when not diagnosed with chronic alcoholism.
Chronic alcoholism following disability diagnosis was associated with greater mortality risk in a nationally representative population of disabled individuals, especially among individuals with a physical disability, brain lesion, and/or kidney failure. Such findings reveal that certain social and political measures must be implemented to help disabled individuals suffering from alcoholism, especially according to disability diagnosis.

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