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Temperance Board Registration for Alcohol Abuse in a National Sample of Swedish Male Twins, Born 1902 to 1949

Kenneth S. Kendler, MD; Carol A. Prescott, PhD; Michael C. Neale, PhD; Nancy L. Pedersen, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1997;54(2):178-184. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1997.01830140090015.
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Background:  Temperance boards were established in Sweden to register and follow up individuals who were seen in legal or medical settings with problems of alcohol abuse. These records, available in a large epidemiologic twin population, have provided an objective and validated measure of alcohol abuse.

Methods:  We examined Swedish temperance board registrations from 1929 to 1974 (n=2516 individual twins) in all male-male Swedish twin pairs of known zygosity from the population-based Swedish Twin Registry; these twin pairs were born from 1902 to 1949 (n=8935 pairs).

Results:  The lifetime prevalence and probandwise concordance rates for temperance board registrations were 13.2% and 47.9%, respectively, in monozygotic twins and 14.6% and 32.8%, respectively, in dizygotic twins. Model fitting suggested that genetic and familial-environmental risk factors accounted for 54% (95% confidence interval [CI], 47%-61%) and 14% (95% CI, 8%-19%) of the liability to temperance board registration, respectively; these estimates were stable across birth cohorts. High genetic liability was reflected by large numbers of temperance board registrations and registrations for criminal alcohol use. Elevated familial-environmental liability was indicated by an early age at first registration.

Conclusions:  Genetic factors are of major etiologic importance for alcohol abuse in men, while familialenvironmental factors play a significant but less important role. The etiologic importance of these factors has remained constant in Sweden for men who were born in the first half of the 20th century.


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