Hazardous drinkers in Norwegian hospitals – a cross-sectional study of prevalence and drinking patterns among somatic patients

  • Kristian Oppedal
  • Sverre Nesvåg
  • Bolette Pedersen
  • Jan Tore Daltveit
  • Hanne Tønnesen


Background: High alcohol intake has been associated with increased risk of hospital admission, increased complication rates, and prolonged hospital stay. Thus, hospital admission may present a relevant opportunity for alcohol intervention. To understand the potential of alcohol interventions we need knowledge about patients’ drinking patterns. The aim of this study was therefore to determine the drinking patterns in a Norwegian hospital population.

Methods: A multicentre cross-sectional survey was carried out at three university hospitals. Patients were asked about alcohol intake one month prior to admission/outpatient treatment. The questionnaire included weekly alcohol intake calculated by frequency X quantity as well as episodes of binge drinking (drinking more than 5 AU during a single day). AUDIT-C was used to determine the frequency of patients having a hazardous drinking pattern during the 12 months prior to hospital treatment.

Results: In total we assessed 2,932 patients for eligibility. A total of 2,350 patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria. We included 1,522 patients (65%) in the analyses. Six percent of the women and 11% of the men reported drinking more than the weekly limits of nine alcohol units (AU) for women and 14 AU for men. Fourteen percent of the women and 29% of the men reported binge drinking during the last month. The frequency of women scoring more or equal to 4 points on AUDIT-C was 20%. The frequency of men scoring more or equal to 5 points was 25%.

Conclusion: Hazardous drinking among Norwegian hospital patients may be more prevalent than what has been reported for the Norwegian population in general. Binge drinking is the dominant drinking pattern.