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Healthcare utilization and readiness outcomes among soldiers with post-deployment at-risk drinking, by multimorbidity class.

Alcohol 2023 August 23
Although alcohol use disorder (AUD) regularly co-occurs with other conditions, there has not been investigation of specific multimorbidity classes among military members with at-risk alcohol use. We used latent class analysis (LCA) to cluster 138,929 soldiers with post-deployment at-risk drinking based on their co-occurring psychological and physical health conditions and indicators of alcohol severity. We examined the association of these multimorbidity classes with healthcare utilization and military readiness outcomes. Latent class analysis was conducted on 31 dichotomous indicators capturing alcohol use severity, mental health screens, psychological and physical health diagnoses, and tobacco use. Longitudinal survival analysis was used to examine the relative hazards of class membership regarding healthcare utilization (e.g., emergency department visit, inpatient stay) and readiness outcomes (e.g., early separation for misconduct). Latent class analysis identified five classes: Class-1-Relatively Healthy (51.6%); Class-2-Pain/Tobacco (17.3%); Class-3-Heavy Drinking/Pain/Tobacco (13.1%); Class-4-Mental Health/Pain/Tobacco (12.7%); and Class-5-Heavy Drinking/Mental Health/Pain/Tobacco (5.4%). Musculoskeletal pain and tobacco use were prevalent in all classes, though highest in Classes 2, 4, and 5. Classes 4 and 5 had the highest hazards of all outcomes. Class-5 generally exhibited slightly higher hazards of all outcomes than Class-4, demonstrating the exacerbation of risk among those with heavy drinking/AUD in combination with mental health conditions and other multimorbidity. This study provides new information about the most common multimorbidity presentations of at-risk drinkers in the military so that targeted, individualized care may be employed. Future research is needed to determine if tailored prevention and treatment approaches for soldiers in different multimorbidity classes is associated with improved outcomes.

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