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Association of coincident self-reported mental health problems and alcohol intake with all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality: A Norwegian pooled population analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalPLoS Medicine
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 6 Jan 2020
DatePublished (current) - 3 Feb 2020

Abstract

Background: The disease burden attributable to mental health problems and to excess or harmful alcohol use is considerable. Despite a strong relationship between these 2 important factors in population health, there are few data quantifying the mortality risk associated with their co-occurrence in the general population. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality according to self-reported mental health problems and alcohol intake in the general population.
Methods and findings: We followed 243,372 participants in Norwegian health surveys (1994–2002) until 2014 for all-cause and CVD mortality by data linkage to national registries. The mean (SD) age at the time of participation in the survey was 43.9 (10.6) years, and 47.8% were men. During a mean (SD) follow-up period of 16.7 (3.2) years, 6,587 participants died from CVD, and 21,376 died from all causes. Cox models estimated hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% CIs according to a mental health index (low, 1.00–1.50; high, 2.00–4.00; low score is favourable) based on the General Health Questionnaire and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist, and according to self-reported alcohol intake (low, <2; light, 2–12; moderate, 12–24; high, >24 grams/day). HRs were adjusted for age, sex, educational level, marital status, and CVD risk factors. Compared to a reference group with low mental health index score and low alcohol intake, HRs (95% CIs) for all-cause mortality were 0.93 (0.89, 0.97; p = 0.001), 1.00 (0.92, 1.09; p = 0.926), and 1.14 (0.96, 1.35; p = 0.119) for low index score combined with light, moderate, and high alcohol intake, respectively. HRs (95% CIs) were 1.22 (1.14, 1.31; p < 0.001), 1.24 (1.15, 1.33; p < 0.001), 1.43 (1.23, 1.66; p < 0.001), and 2.29 (1.87, 2.80; p < 0.001) for high index score combined with low, light, moderate, and high alcohol intake, respectively. For CVD mortality, HRs (95% CIs) were 0.93 (0.86, 1.00; p = 0.058), 0.90 (0.76, 1.07; p = 0.225), and 0.95 (0.67, 1.33; p = 0.760) for a low index score combined with light, moderate, and high alcohol intake, respectively, and 1.11 (0.98, 1.25; p = 0.102), 0.97 (0.83, 1.13; p = 0.689), 1.01 (0.71, 1.44; p = 0.956), and 1.78 (1.14, 2.78; p = 0.011) for high index score combined with low, light, moderate, and high alcohol intake, respectively. HRs for the combination of a high index score and high alcohol intake (HRs: 2.29 for all-cause and 1.78 for CVD mortality) were 64% (95% CI 53%–74%) and 69% (95% CI 42%–97%) higher than expected for all-cause mortality and CVD mortality, respectively, under the assumption of a multiplicative interaction structure. A limitation of our study is that the findings were based on average reported intake of alcohol without accounting for the drinking pattern.
Conclusions: In the general population, the mortality rates associated with more mental health problems and a high alcohol intake were increased when the risk factors occurred together.

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