Health outcomes of women exposed to household alcohol abuse: A family practice training site research network (FPTSRN) study

John G. Ryan, Louis T. Verardo, Jeanne M. Kidd, Elisa L. Horbatuk, Richard Bonanno, Roxanne Fahrenwald, Scott Kirsch, Gwendolyn V. Stretch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. There is a paucity of knowledge about the effects of exposure to alcohol abuse in the household on women who do not abuse alcohol. The purpose of this study was to determine whether women who did not abuse alcohol demonstrated any health-related adverse effects because they lived with family members who did abuse alcohol. METHODS. This study was a historical prospective survey of female patients at five primary care practices. Survey instruments included the CAGE questionnaire, a five-item screening test for exposure to alcoholism, and the Medical Outcomes Study 36- item Short Form Health Survey (MOS SF-36). Patient records were examined for specific diagnoses. RESULTS. A total of 267 patients completed the questionnaires and had complete medical records available for analysis. Forty-two (15.7%) potential alcohol abusers were excluded from the sample leaving a working total of 225; 70 (31.1%) were potentially exposed to alcoholism in the household. Women exposed to alcohol abuse in the home did not experience an increased risk for the medical diagnoses studied, but they did demonstrate decreased health-related quality of life as measured by the MOS-SF-36 for the following scales: role physical (P =.025), role emotional (P =.038), social functioning (P =.001), bodily pain (P =.016), and mental health (P =.040). CONCLUSIONS. Women exposed to alcohol abuse in the household are more likely to perceive themselves as less healthy. Although they may not have received a clinical diagnosis of depression, they are more likely to feel depressed. The extent to which subjects' health-related quality of life is influenced by exposure to alcohol abuse suggests that the medical diagnosis may be insensitive as a description of health status in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-417
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Family Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcoholism
  • Brief psychiatric rating scale
  • Drug screening
  • Physicians, family
  • Primary health care
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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