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

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28 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78–83
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Early online date10 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


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