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Edmonds AT, Rhew IC, Jones-Smith J, Chan KCG, De Castro AB, Rubinsky AD, Blosnich JR, Williams EC. Neighborhood Disadvantage, Patterns of Unhealthy Alcohol Use, and Differential Associations by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Rurality: A Study of Veterans Health Administration Patients. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs. 2022 Nov 1; 83(6):867-878.
OBJECTIVE: Stressful conditions within disadvantaged neighborhoods may shape unhealthy alcohol use and related harms. Yet, associations between neighborhood disadvantage and more severe unhealthy alcohol use are underexplored, particularly for subpopulations. Among national Veterans Health Administration (VA) patients (2013-2017), we assessed associations between neighborhood disadvantage and multiple alcohol-related outcomes and examined moderation by sociodemographic factors. METHOD: Electronic health record data were extracted for VA patients with a routine Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C) screen. Patient addresses were linked by census block group to the Area Deprivation Index (ADI), dichotomized at the 85th percentile, and examined in quintiles for sensitivity analyses. Using modified Poisson generalized estimating equations models, we estimated associations between neighborhood disadvantage and five outcomes: unhealthy alcohol use (AUDIT-C 5), any past-year heavy episodic drinking (HED), severe unhealthy alcohol use (AUDIT-C 8), alcohol use disorder (AUD) diagnosis, and alcohol-specific conditions diagnoses. Moderation by gender, race/ethnicity, and rurality was tested using multiplicative interaction. RESULTS: Among 6,381,033 patients, residence in a highly disadvantaged neighborhood (ADI 85th percentile) was associated with a higher likelihood of unhealthy alcohol use (prevalence ratio [PR] = 1.06, 95% CI [1.05, 1.07]), severe unhealthy alcohol use (PR = 1.14, 95% CI [1.12, 1.15]), HED (PR = 1.04, 95% CI [1.03, 1.05]), AUD (PR = 1.14, 95% CI [1.13, 1.15]), and alcohol-specific conditions (PR = 1.21, 95% CI [1.18, 1.24]). Associations were larger for Black and American Indian/Alaska Native patients compared with White patients and for urban compared with rural patients. There was mixed evidence of moderation by gender. CONCLUSIONS: Neighborhood disadvantage may play a role in unhealthy alcohol use in VA patients, particularly those of marginalized racialized groups and those residing in urban areas.