A moderate dose of alcohol selectively reduces empathic accuracy.
ABSTRACT: RATIONALE:Drinking alcohol is associated with various interpersonal effects, including effects on cognitive empathy. Empathic accuracy (EA) is a form of cognitive empathy concerned with perceivers' accuracy in inferring a target's thoughts and feelings. The effects of alcohol on EA have not previously been studied. OBJECTIVES:We examined the effect of a moderate alcohol dose on EA in social drinkers. METHODS:Fifty-four men with varying levels of hazardous drinking according to the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) participated in a randomized, double-blind, between-group study. The alcohol group received 0.56 g/kg alcohol in a vodka and tonic-mixed drink. The placebo group received tonic, with 4 ml of vodka sprayed on top. All participants performed an EA task that involved watching 16 videos of people narrating positive and negative emotional autobiographical events and continuously rating how targets felt while narrating. RESULTS:There were no significant main effects of beverage condition on the EA task. There was an effect of the condition by AUDIT interaction for EA on the positive videos. Post-hoc simple contrasts revealed that in participants with lower AUDIT scores, the alcohol condition had lower EA for positive videos than the placebo condition. No significant main effect for condition occurred in the participants with higher AUDIT scores. CONCLUSIONS:The effect of condition in participants with lower AUDIT scores indicates alcohol selectively reduced EA in individuals low on hazardous drinking. This suggests either alcohol-induced impairments of EA for positive events or a positivity bias in men at low risk for alcohol dependency.
Project description:Several psychometrically sound measures of alcohol use have been developed to assess drinking. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and its shorter counterpart the AUDIT-C, which contains the first 3 AUDIT questions, were developed by the World Health Organization and have become the preferred brief measures for screening and evaluating problem severity. This study compared the first 3 questions on the AUDIT with another psychometrically sound brief measure of alcohol use, the Quick Drinking Screen (QDS).Data were obtained from a randomized controlled trial of a mail-based intervention promoting self-change with 472 alcohol abusers (n = 280, no prior alcohol treatment; n = 192, prior alcohol treatment). Participants' retrospective self-reports of alcohol consumption were collected using the QDS and the 3 AUDIT-C questions and compared. Although both measures contain similar questions (2 quantity-frequency and 1 binge drinking), they differ in 2 important ways: (i) temporal interval over which data are collected, and (ii) formatting of response options (i.e., a continuous number vs. categorical).Intraclass correlations for drinking variables were moderate to moderately high. A repeated-measures MANOVA using treatment condition and gender as variables revealed significant differences in absolute values between the 2 drinking measures with the QDS showing greater consumption on almost all variables. Participants' numerical answers on the QDS were compared to their categorical answers to the similar alcohol use questions on the AUDIT-C. The comparison revealed that participants' answers on the AUDIT-C were associated with extreme variability compared to their QDS answers. This variability suggests the AUDIT-C would be unreliable as a quantitative measure of alcohol consumption.The differences between the 3 alcohol use questions on the AUDIT-C and the same questions on the QDS may reflect the imprecision of the AUDIT-C's drinking response categories. Results suggest that the QDS can be used to identify risky drinking and to provide a more informative characterization of a drinker's alcohol consumption than that provided by the AUDIT-C.
Project description:Investigations of targeted coping skills could help guide initial treatment decisions for individuals with co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol dependence (AD) who often endorse worse coping skills than those with AD but not PTSD. Although improvement in coping skills is associated with enhanced alcohol use outcomes, no study has evaluated the utility of teaching specific coping skills in the context of comorbid PTSD/AD. We compared the effects of teaching two coping skills (cognitive restructuring [CR] and experiential acceptance [EA]) or an attention control condition on drinking and PTSD symptoms among 78 men and women with comorbid PTSD/AD during a 5-week daily follow-up assessment. Both CR and EA skills were associated with decreased drinking compared to control, and that change in drinking over time did not significantly differ between those who received CR and EA. Individuals who received CR skills, however, consumed less alcohol on a given day than those who received EA skills. Neither CR nor EA was associated with a decrease in PTSD symptom severity. These results provide preliminary support for clinicians to prioritize CR and EA skills during initial treatment sessions when working with individuals with PTSD/AD, and offer ideas for continued investigation and intervention refinement.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The AUDIT-C is an extensively validated screen for unhealthy alcohol use (i.e. drinking above recommended limits or alcohol use disorder), which consists of three questions about alcohol consumption. AUDIT-C scores ?4 points for men and ?3 for women are considered positive screens based on US validation studies that compared the AUDIT-C to "gold standard" measures of unhealthy alcohol use from independent, detailed interviews. However, results of screening--positive or negative based on AUDIT-C scores--can be inconsistent with reported drinking on the AUDIT-C questions. For example, individuals can screen positive based on the AUDIT-C score while reporting drinking below US recommended limits on the same AUDIT-C. Alternatively, they can screen negative based on the AUDIT-C score while reporting drinking above US recommended limits. Such inconsistencies could complicate interpretation of screening results, but it is unclear how often they occur in practice. METHODS: This study used AUDIT-C data from respondents who reported past-year drinking on one of two national US surveys: a general population survey (N?=?26,610) and a Veterans Health Administration (VA) outpatient survey (N?=?467,416). Gender-stratified analyses estimated the prevalence of AUDIT-C screen results--positive or negative screens based on the AUDIT-C score--that were inconsistent with reported drinking (above or below US recommended limits) on the same AUDIT-C. RESULTS: Among men who reported drinking, 13.8% and 21.1% of US general population and VA samples, respectively, had screening results based on AUDIT-C scores (positive or negative) that were inconsistent with reported drinking on the AUDIT-C questions (above or below US recommended limits). Among women who reported drinking, 18.3% and 20.7% of US general population and VA samples, respectively, had screening results that were inconsistent with reported drinking. LIMITATIONS: This study did not include an independent interview gold standard for unhealthy alcohol use and therefore cannot address how often observed inconsistencies represent false positive or negative screens. CONCLUSIONS: Up to 21% of people who drink alcohol had alcohol screening results based on the AUDIT-C score that were inconsistent with reported drinking on the same AUDIT-C. This needs to be addressed when training clinicians to use the AUDIT-C.
Project description:Russian adults have extraordinarily high rates of premature death. Retrospective enquiries to the families of about 50,000 deceased Russians had found excess vodka use among those dying from external causes (accident, suicide, violence) and eight particular disease groupings. We now seek prospective evidence of these associations.In three Russian cities (Barnaul, Byisk, and Tomsk), we interviewed 200,000 adults during 1999-2008 (with 12,000 re-interviewed some years later) and followed them until 2010 for cause-specific mortality. In 151,000 with no previous disease and some follow-up at ages 35-74 years, Poisson regression (adjusted for age at risk, amount smoked, education, and city) was used to calculate the relative risks associating vodka consumption with mortality. We have combined these relative risks with age-specific death rates to get 20-year absolute risks.Among 57,361 male smokers with no previous disease, the estimated 20-year risks of death at ages 35-54 years were 16% (95% CI 15-17) for those who reported consuming less than a bottle of vodka per week at baseline, 20% (18-22) for those consuming 1-2·9 bottles per week, and 35% (31-39) for those consuming three or more bottles per week; trend p<0·0001. The corresponding risks of death at ages 55-74 years were 50% (48-52) for those who reported consuming less than a bottle of vodka per week at baseline, 54% (51-57) for those consuming 1-2·9 bottles per week, and 64% (59-69) for those consuming three or more bottles per week; trend p<0·0001. In both age ranges most of the excess mortality in heavier drinkers was from external causes or the eight disease groupings strongly associated with alcohol in the retrospective enquiries. Self-reported drinking fluctuated; of the men who reported drinking three or more bottles of vodka per week who were reinterviewed a few years later, about half (185 of 321) then reported drinking less than one bottle per week. Such fluctuations must have substantially attenuated the apparent hazards of heavy drinking in this study, yet self-reported vodka use at baseline still strongly predicted risk. Among male non-smokers and among females, self-reported heavy drinking was uncommon, but seemed to involve similar absolute excess risks.This large prospective study strongly reinforces other evidence that vodka is a major cause of the high risk of premature death in Russian adults.UK Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, European Union, WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Alcohol consumption among Indigenous Australians can involve a stop-start pattern of drinking, with consumption well above recommended guidelines on each occasion. Such intermittent drinking patterns can make screening for risky drinking difficult. This study evaluates the ability of several short alcohol screening tools, contained in the Grog Survey Application, to detect short- or long-term risky drinking as defined by Australian guidelines. Tested tools include a modification of Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-Cm). METHODS:Alcohol consumption was assessed in current drinkers in the past year (n = 184) using AUDIT-Cm and using the last four drinking occasions (Finnish method). Sensitivity and specificity were assessed relative to the Finnish method, for how AUDIT-Cm score (3 + for women, 4 + for men), and how subsets of AUDIT-Cm questions (AUDIT-1m and AUDIT-2m; and AUDIT-3mV alone) were able to determine short- or long-term risk from drinking. Responses to AUDIT-Cm were used to calculate the average standard drinks consumed per day, and the frequency at which more than four standard drinks were consumed on single occasions. Finally, shorter versions of the Finnish method (1, 2, or 3 occasions of drinking) were compared to the full Finnish method, by examining the percentage of variance retained by shorter versions. RESULTS:AUDIT-Cm has a high sensitivity in detecting at-risk drinking compared with the Finnish method (sensitivity = 99%, specificity = 67%). The combination of AUDIT-1m and AUDIT-2m was able to classify the drinking risk status for all but four individuals in the same way as the Finnish method did. For the Finnish method, two drinking sessions to calculate drinks per drinking occasion, and four to calculate frequency resulted in nearly identical estimates to data on all four of the most recent drinking occasions (r2 = 0.997). CONCLUSIONS:The combination of AUDIT-1m and AUDIT-2m may offer advantages as a short screening tool, over AUDIT-3mV, in groups where intermittent and high per occasion drinking is common. As an alternative to the full Finnish method, the quantity consumed on the last two occasions and timing of the last four occasions may provide a practical short screening tool.
Project description:Studies have shown that false memories can be implanted via innocuous suggestions, and that these memories can play a role in shaping people's subsequent attitudes and preferences. The current study explored whether participants (N=147) who received a false suggestion that they had become ill drinking a particular type of alcohol would increase their confidence that the event had occurred, and whether their new-found belief would subsequently affect their alcohol preferences. Results indicated that participants who received a suggestion that they had gotten sick drinking rum or vodka before the age of 16 reported increased confidence that the suggested experience had occurred. Moreover, participants who received a false alcohol suggestion also showed a strong trend to report diminished preference for the specified type of alcohol after the false suggestion. Implantation of a false memory related to one's past drinking experiences may influence current drink preferences and could be an important avenue for further exploration in the development of alcohol interventions.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Individuals' social networks exert a strong influence on alcohol use, but valid assessment of network drinking behavior is typically lengthy and high in participant burden. The aim of this study was to validate the Brief Alcohol Social Density Assessment (BASDA), an efficient measure of perceived alcohol use within a person's social network, in a sample of adult drinkers from the general community. Specifically, the convergent, criterion-related, incremental validity and internal validity were investigated by examining the BASDA in relation to other established measures of drinking motives, weekly drinking level, and severity of involvement. METHODS:Participants were 903 (56% female) adults who reported drinking in the last year and who completed the BASDA, the Drinking Motives Questionnaire, the Daily Drinking Questionnaire, and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). RESULTS:Significant positive correlations were found between the BASDA and drinking motives, drinking quantity, and the AUDIT (rs = 0.21 to 0.51, ps < 0.001), providing support for convergent validity. There was a significantly higher BASDA score for those scoring at or above an AUDIT cutoff for hazardous drinking (p < 0.001), providing support for criterion-related validity. Finally, beyond motives and covariates, the BASDA was significantly associated with total AUDIT score (?R2 = 0.09, p < 0.001), indicating its additive contribution and providing support for incremental validity. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed excellent fit, and all items significantly loaded onto a single factor (p < 0.0001), providing evidence of internal validity. The resulting alcohol social density latent variable was significantly and robustly associated with drinks per week and AUDIT total score. CONCLUSIONS:These findings provide further support for the BASDA as a valid and efficient measure of social network alcohol density for understanding social influences on alcohol misuse.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Abstinence is often the treatment aim for alcohol use disorders (AUD), but this may deter individuals who prefer drinking reduction goals from entering treatment, and be an overly restrictive end point in alcohol clinical trials. Nonabstinent drinking reductions that predict improvement in how individuals feel or function may be useful clinical trial outcomes, for example, reductions in the 4-category World Health Organization (WHO) drinking risk levels. To investigate the clinical relevance of these reductions, we examined their relationship with 2 outcomes of interest to medical providers: liver disease, and positive scores on an alcohol screening measure. METHODS:Current drinkers in a U.S. national survey (n = 21,925) were interviewed in 2001 to 2002 (Wave 1) and re-interviewed 3 years later (Wave 2). WHO drinking risk levels, liver disease, and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C) were assessed at both waves. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) were used to indicate the association of change in WHO drinking risk levels with Wave 2 liver disease and AUDIT-C scores. RESULTS:Wave 1 very-high-risk drinkers who reduced 1, 2, or 3 WHO drinking risk levels had significantly lower odds of Wave 2 liver disease (aORs = 0.34, 0.23, 0.17) and positive AUDIT-C scores (aORs = 0.27, 0.09, 0.03). Wave 1 high-risk drinkers who reduced 1 or 2 WHO risk levels had significantly lower odds of positive AUDIT-C scores (aORs = 0.61, 0.25). Adjusting for alcohol dependence or AUDIT-C scoring variations did not affect results. CONCLUSIONS:In the highest-risk drinkers, reductions in WHO drinking risk levels predicted lower likelihood of liver disease and positive AUDIT-C scores. Results add to findings that reductions in the 4-category WHO drinking risk levels are a meaningful indicator of how individuals feel and function, and could serve as nonabstinent end points in clinical trials. Results also connect the WHO risk drinking levels to commonly used alcohol screening questions, which may be more familiar to healthcare providers.
Project description:AIMS:To test the hypothesis that among non-treatment-seeking emerging adults (EA) who both use marijuana and have alcohol binges, a brief, longitudinally delivered, developmentally based motivational intervention would show greater reductions in the use of these two substances compared with a health education control condition. DESIGN:Parallel, two-group, randomized controlled trial with follow-up interventions conducted at 1, 3, 6 and 9 months and final assessments at 12 and 15 months. SETTING:Hospital-based research unit in the United States. PARTICIPANTS:Community-based 18-25-year-olds who reported at least monthly binge drinking and at least weekly marijuana use. INTERVENTION:Motivational intervention (EA-MI) focused primarily on themes of emerging adulthood (identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between, a sense of possibilities) and the subjects' relationship to substance use (n = 110) compared with an attention-matched health education control condition (n = 116). MEASUREMENTS:The primary outcomes were days of binge alcohol, marijuana and dual use day as measured using the timeline follow-back method analysing the treatment by time interaction to determine relative differences in the rate of change between intervention arms. FINDINGS:At baseline, the mean rate (days/30) of binge drinking was 5.23 (± 4.31) of marijuana use was 19.4 (± 10.0) and of dual (same day) use was 4.11 (± 4.13). Relative to baseline, there were reductions in the rate of binge alcohol use, marijuana use and days of combined binge alcohol and marijuana use (P < 0.001) at all follow-up assessments. However, the treatment × time interaction was not statistically significant for alcohol (P = 0.37), for marijuana (P = 0.07) or for dual use (P = 0.55). Averaged over all follow-ups, mean reductions in binge, marijuana and dual use days were 1.16, 1.45 and 1.08, respectively, in the health education arm, and 1.06, 1.69 and 0.96 in EA-MI. Bayes factors were < 0.01 for frequency of binge alcohol use and frequency of dual binge alcohol and marijuana and 0.016 for marijuana use. CONCLUSIONS:A brief, longitudinally delivered, developmentally based motivational intervention for young adults did not produce reductions in binge alcohol, marijuana use or dual use days relative to a control condition.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Despite intervention efforts to date, the prevalence of risky drinking among adolescents and emerging adults remains high, increasing the risk for health consequences and the development of alcohol use disorders. Peer influences are particularly salient among this age group, including via social media. Thus, the development of efficacious early interventions for youth, delivered with a broad reach via trained peers on social media, could have an important role in addressing risky drinking and concomitant drug use. OBJECTIVE:This paper describes the protocol of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) testing the efficacy of a social media intervention among adolescents and emerging adults who meet the criteria for risky drinking (using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption [AUDIT-C]), delivered with and without financial incentives for participation, compared with an attention placebo control condition (ie, entertaining social media content), on alcohol consumption and consequences. METHODS:This RCT involved recruiting 955 youths (aged 16-24 years) via advertisements on Facebook and Instagram to self-administer a brief web-based screening survey. Those screening positive for past 3-month risky drinking (AUDIT-C positive: ages 16-17 years: ?3 females and ?4 males; and ages 18-24 years: ?4 females and ?5 males) were eligible for the RCT. After providing consent (a waiver of parental consent was obtained for minors), participants completed a web-based baseline survey and several verification procedures, including a selfie photo matched to Facebook profile photos. Participants were then randomized to join invitation-only secret Facebook groups, which were not searchable or viewable by parents, friends, or anyone not recruited by the study. The 3 conditions were social media intervention with incentives, social media intervention without incentives (SMI), and attention placebo control. Each condition lasted 8 weeks and consisted of bachelor's-level and master's-level therapist electronic coaches posting relevant content and responding to participants' posts in a manner consistent with Motivational Interviewing. Participants in the control condition and SMI condition did not receive payments but were blind to condition assignment between these 2 conditions. Follow-ups are ongoing and occur at 3, 6, and 12 months poststart of the groups. RESULTS:We enrolled 955 participants over 10 waves of recruitment who screened positive for risky drinking into the RCT. CONCLUSIONS:The findings of this study will provide the critical next step in delivering early alcohol interventions to the youth, capitalizing on social media platforms, which could have significant public health impact by altering alcohol use trajectories of adolescents and emerging adults engaged in risky drinking. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02809586; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02809586. INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID):DERR1-10.2196/16688.