Intention to change drinking behaviour in general practice patients with problematic drinking and comorbid depression or anxiety

Janina Grothues*, Gallus Bischof, Susa Reinhardt, Ulfert Hapke, Christian Meyer, Ulrich John, Hans Jürgen Rumpf

*Corresponding author for this work
21 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: This paper examines the interaction of intention to change drinking behaviour with comorbid depression and anxiety in pro-actively recruited individuals with a range of drinking problems. Methods: Cross-sectional data of 408 general practice (GP) patients aged 18-64 years, who meet the diagnostic criteria of alcohol dependence or abuse according to DSM-IV, criteria of at-risk drinking or binge drinking, were drawn from a brief intervention study. Of the sample, 89 participants were diagnosed with comorbid anxiety and/or depressive disorders. The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of behaviour change constructs: Stages and processes of change, self-efficacy, and decisional balance were assessed in relation to presence and absence of the respective psychiatric disorders. Results: Analysis including all categories of problematic drinking revealed comorbid anxiety and/or depression to be significantly related to later stages of change. Within subgroups, this was only true for alcohol abuse, not for dependence, at-risk or binge drinking. In addition, comorbidity was related to higher use of processes of change and more pros and cons of drinking, when compared to non-comorbid participants. Comorbid individuals showed higher temptation to drink and lower self-efficacy to abstain from drinking. Separate analyses of readiness to change drinking between the categories anxiety/no comorbidity and depression/no comorbidity both obtained significance, while for anxiety disorders, this was more profound. A multinomial logistic regression analysis revealed that adverse consequences better predicted readiness to change when compared to comorbidity. Discussion: Individuals with problematic drinking and comorbid anxiety or depression may be well accessible for pro-active intervention to reduce drinking. Strategies should focus on the enhancement of coping skills to control temptation and self-efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)394-400
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 09.2005

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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