Background: Studies of alcohol use in patients with rheumatoid arthritis are sparse and studies of why patients choose to stop drinking alcohol in particular.
Objectives: The aim of the current study was twofold: first to identify patients with RA who stopped drinking alcohol and compare those to patients drinking alcohol, and second, to explore reasons to stop drinking alcohol.
Methods: In 2010 a self-completion postal questionnaire was sent to all 2,102 prevalent patients in the Better anti-rheumatic farmacotherapy (BARFOT) study enquiring about disease severity, physical function (HAQ) and health related quality of life (EQ5D), pain, fatigue, patient global assessment (PatGA) and lifestyle factors e.g. alcohol. The questions assessing alcohol included the question “Have you stopped drinking alcohol?” and an open question “Why have you stopped drinking alcohol?” A mixed method design was used and 1512 patients had answered the alcohol questions and was included in the study of those 86 had stopped drinking alcohol. Seventy-one patients answered the open question and their answers were analyzed with qualitative content analysis (1).
Results: Comparing patient with RA using alcohol or not, the patients who stopped drinking alcohol was older median age (min-max) 69 (36–90) vs. 66 (23–95), p=0.011, more men 42% vs. 29%, p=0.015, had worse physical function, median HAQ (min-max) 0.50 (0–3.00) vs. 1.00 (0–2.75), p<0.001, worse health related quality of life, median EQ5D (min-max), 0.69 (-0.59–1.00) vs. 0.76 (-0.02–1.00), p<0.001, worse self-perceived health, median PatGA (min-max) 5 (0–10) vs. 3 (0–10), <0.001, more pain, median (min-max) 5 (0–10) vs. 3 (0–10), p<0.001, and more fatigue median (min-max) 6 (0–10) vs 4 (0–10), p<0.001. There were no differences between the groups regarding disease duration, swollen and tender joints. The qualitative content analysis resulted in five categories describing the reasons for patient with RA to stop drinking alcohol: disease and treatment, health and wellbeing, work and family, faith and belief and dependences and abuse.
Conclusions: Patients with RA who stopped drinking alcohol have a lower physical function, health related quality of life, self-perceived health and more pain and fatigue comparing to patients with RA drinking alcohol. The reasons to stop drinking alcohol were of different nature such as medical, physical, mental, social and spiritual