Research finds high AUD prevalence among Puerto Ricans

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Puerto Ricans make up the second largest Hispanic group in the United States, comprising 9.5% of the population (Mexicans are the largest group). Puerto Ricans living on the U.S. continent have some of the highest rates of drinking, binge drinking, and alcohol use disorder (AUD) of any of the U.S. Hispanic national groups. This research investigated lifetime criteria and severity (mild, moderate, severe) of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) AUD in Puerto Rico.

Researchers analyzed data from a household random sample of individuals 18-64 years of age in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The survey response rate was 83%. DSM-5 AUD was identified with the Spanish version of the World Health Organization's Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Analyses also identified correlates of each severity level.

AUD prevalence was found to be high in San Juan. The prevalence of lifetime DSM-5 AUD among men and women was 38% and 16%, respectively. Mild lifetime DSM-5 AUD was the most prevalent among both men (18%) and women (9%). The most common criteria – independent of gender and severity level – were drinking larger quantities and for longer than planned (endorsed by 80-97% of men and 78-91% of women) and hazardous use (endorsed by 56-91% of men and 42-74% of women). Weekly drinking frequency, a greater volume of alcohol consumed per drinking occasion, positive attitudes toward drinking, drinking norms, and male gender increased risks across all DSM-5 AUD severity levels (from mild to moderate to severe). Greater negative attitudes about drinking, low family cohesion, and Protestant religion were associated with higher AUD severity levels. These findings may help to understand both drinking problems on the island and drinking by Puerto Ricans on the mainland.

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