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Alcohol misuse in the United Kingdom Armed Forces: A longitudinal study

Thandi, Gursimran, Sundin, Josefin, Ng-Knight, Terry, Jones, Margaret, Hull, Lisa, Jones, Norman, Greenberg, Neil, Rona, Roberto J., Wessely, Simon and Fear, Nicola T. (2015) Alcohol misuse in the United Kingdom Armed Forces: A longitudinal study Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 156. pp. 78-83.

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We assessed changes in Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores over time. We investigated the impact of life events and changes in mental health status on AUDIT scores over time in UK military personnel.


A random representative sample of regular UK military personnel who had been serving in 2003 were surveyed in 2004–2006 (phase 1) and again in 2007–2009 (phase 2). The impact of changes in symptoms of psychological distress, probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), marital status, serving status, rank, deployment to Iraq/Afghanistan and smoking was assessed between phases.


We found a statistically significant but small decrease in AUDIT scores between phases 1 and 2 (mean change = −1.01, 95% confidence interval = −1.14, −0.88). Participants reported a decrease in AUDIT scores if they experienced remission in psychological distress (adjusted mean −2.21, 95% CI −2.58, −1.84) and probable PTSD (adjusted mean −3.59, 95% CI −4.41, −2.78), if they stopped smoking (adjusted mean −1.41, 95% CI −1.83, −0.98) and were in a new relationship (adjusted mean −2.77, 95% CI −3.15, −2.38). On the other hand, reporting new onset or persistent symptoms of probable PTSD (adjusted mean 1.34, 95% CI 0.71, 1.98) or a relationship breakdown (adjusted mean 0.53, 95% CI 0.07, 0.99) at phase 2 were associated with an increase in AUDIT scores.


The overall level of hazardous alcohol consumption remains high in the UK military. Changes in AUDIT scores were linked to mental health and life events but not with deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Thandi, Gursimran
Sundin, Josefin
Jones, Margaret
Hull, Lisa
Jones, Norman
Greenberg, Neil
Rona, Roberto J.
Wessely, Simon
Fear, Nicola T.
Date : 10 September 2015
DOI : 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.08.033
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2018. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Uncontrolled Keywords : UK; Military; Alcohol misuse; Longitudinal study; AUDIT; Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); Psychological distress; Relationship status; Smoking
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 20 Jun 2018 12:33
Last Modified : 20 Jun 2018 12:33

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