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1.  Adult Consequences of Late Adolescent Alcohol Consumption: A Systematic Review of Cohort Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(2):e1000413.
In a systematic review of cohort studies of adolescent drinking and later outcomes, Jim McCambridge and colleagues show that although studies suggest links to worse adult physical and mental health and social consequences, existing evidence is of poor quality.
Background
Although important to public policy, there have been no rigorous evidence syntheses of the long-term consequences of late adolescent drinking.
Methods and Findings
This systematic review summarises evidence from general population cohort studies of drinking between 15–19 years old and any subsequent outcomes aged 20 or greater, with at least 3 years of follow-up study. Fifty-four studies were included, of which 35 were assessed to be vulnerable to bias and/or confounding. The principal findings are: (1) There is consistent evidence that higher alcohol consumption in late adolescence continues into adulthood and is also associated with alcohol problems including dependence; (2) Although a number of studies suggest links to adult physical and mental health and social consequences, existing evidence is of insufficient quality to warrant causal inferences at this stage.
Conclusions
There is an urgent need for high quality long-term prospective cohort studies in order to better understand the public health burden that is consequent on late adolescent drinking, both in relation to adult drinking and more broadly. Reducing drinking during late adolescence is likely to be important for preventing long-term adverse consequences as well as protecting against more immediate harms.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The effects of alcohol intoxication (drunkenness), dependence (habitual, compulsive, and long-term drinking), and the associated biochemical changes, have wide-ranging health and social consequences, some of which can be lethal. Worldwide, alcohol causes 2.5 million deaths (3.8% of total) and 69.4 million (4.5% of total) of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). Unintentional injuries alone account for about one-third of the 2.5 million deaths, whereas neuro-psychiatric conditions account for almost 40%. There is also a causal relationship between alcohol consumption and more than 60 types of disease and injury; worldwide, alcohol is estimated to cause about 20%–30% cases of esophageal cancer, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, homicide, epilepsy, and motor vehicle crashes. There is increasing evidence that, in addition to the volume of alcohol consumed, the pattern of drinking has an effect on health outcomes, with binge drinking found to be particularly harmful. As the majority of people who binge drink are teenagers, this group may be particularly vulnerable to the damaging health effects of alcohol, leading to global concern about the drinking trends and patterns among young people.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although there have been many published cohort studies reporting the longer term harms associated with adolescent drinking, the strength of this evidence remains unclear, which has implications for the objectives of interventions. For example, if adolescent drinking does not cause later difficulties, early intervention on, and management of, the acute consequences of alcohol consumption, such as antisocial behaviour and unintentional injuries, may be the most appropriate community safety and public health responses. However, if there is a causal relationship, there needs to be an additional approach that addresses the cumulative harmful effects of alcohol. The researchers conducted this systematic review of cohort studies, as this method provides the strongest observational study design to evaluate evidence of causality.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a comprehensive literature review to identify relevant studies that met their inclusion criteria, which were: (1) data collection from at least two points in time, at least 3 years apart, from the same cohort; (2) data collection regarding alcohol consumption between the ages of 15 and 19 years old; and (3) inclusion of a report of at least one quantitative measure of effect, such as an odds ratio, between alcohol involvement and any later outcome assessed at age 20 or greater. The majority of these studies were multiple reports from ten cohorts and approximately half were from the US. The researchers then evaluated the strength of causal inference possible in these studies by assessing whether all possible contributing factors(confounders) had been taken into account, identifying studies that had follow-up rates of 80% or greater, and which had sample sizes of 1,000 participants or more.
Using these methods, the researchers found that, overall, there is consistent evidence that higher alcohol consumption in late adolescence continues into adulthood and is also associated with alcohol problems, including dependence. For example, one population-based cohort showed that late adolescent drinking can cause early death among men, mainly through car crashes and suicides, and there was a large evidence base supporting the ongoing impacts of late adolescent drinking on adult drinking behaviours—although most of these studies could not strongly support causal inferences because of their weak designs. The researchers also concluded that although a number of studies suggested links with late adolescent drinking to adult physical and mental health and social consequences, this evidence is generally of poor quality and insufficient to infer causality.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this study show that that the evidence-base on the long-term consequences of late adolescent drinking is not as extensive or compelling as it needs to be. The researchers stress that there is an urgent need for high quality long-term prospective cohort studies in order to better understand the public health burden associated with adolescent drinking in general and in relation to adult drinking. However, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that reducing drinking during late adolescence is likely to be important for preventing long-term adverse consequences as well as protecting against more immediate harmful consequences harms.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000413.
The World Health Organization has information about the global incidence of alcohol consumption
The US-based Marin Institute has information about alcohol and young people
The BBC also has a site on late adolescent drinking
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000413
PMCID: PMC3035611  PMID: 21346802
2.  The Effectiveness of Community Action in Reducing Risky Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001617.
In a cluster randomized controlled trial, Anthony Shakeshaft and colleagues measure the effectiveness of a multi-component community-based intervention for reducing alcohol-related harm.
Background
The World Health Organization, governments, and communities agree that community action is likely to reduce risky alcohol consumption and harm. Despite this agreement, there is little rigorous evidence that community action is effective: of the six randomised trials of community action published to date, all were US-based and focused on young people (rather than the whole community), and their outcomes were limited to self-report or alcohol purchase attempts. The objective of this study was to conduct the first non-US randomised controlled trial (RCT) of community action to quantify the effectiveness of this approach in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms measured using both self-report and routinely collected data.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster RCT comprising 20 communities in Australia that had populations of 5,000–20,000, were at least 100 km from an urban centre (population ≥ 100,000), and were not involved in another community alcohol project. Communities were pair-matched, and one member of each pair was randomly allocated to the experimental group. Thirteen interventions were implemented in the experimental communities from 2005 to 2009: community engagement; general practitioner training in alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI); feedback to key stakeholders; media campaign; workplace policies/practices training; school-based intervention; general practitioner feedback on their prescribing of alcohol medications; community pharmacy-based SBI; web-based SBI; Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services support for SBI; Good Sports program for sports clubs; identifying and targeting high-risk weekends; and hospital emergency department–based SBI. Primary outcomes based on routinely collected data were alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions. Routinely collected data for the entire study period (2001–2009) were obtained in 2010. Secondary outcomes based on pre- and post-intervention surveys (n = 2,977 and 2,255, respectively) were the following: long-term risky drinking, short-term high-risk drinking, short-term risky drinking, weekly consumption, hazardous/harmful alcohol use, and experience of alcohol harm. At the 5% level of statistical significance, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the interventions were effective in the experimental, relative to control, communities for alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions, and for rates of risky alcohol consumption and hazardous/harmful alcohol use. Although respondents in the experimental communities reported statistically significantly lower average weekly consumption (1.90 fewer standard drinks per week, 95% CI = −3.37 to −0.43, p = 0.01) and less alcohol-related verbal abuse (odds ratio = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.96, p = 0.04) post-intervention, the low survey response rates (40% and 24% for the pre- and post-intervention surveys, respectively) require conservative interpretation. The main limitations of this study are as follows: (1) that the study may have been under-powered to detect differences in routinely collected data outcomes as statistically significant, and (2) the low survey response rates.
Conclusions
This RCT provides little evidence that community action significantly reduces risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms, other than potential reductions in self-reported average weekly consumption and experience of alcohol-related verbal abuse. Complementary legislative action may be required to more effectively reduce alcohol harms.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000123448
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People have consumed alcoholic beverages throughout history, but alcohol use is now an increasing global public health problem. According to the World Health Organization's 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, alcohol use is the fifth leading risk factor (after high blood pressure and smoking) for disease and is responsible for 3.9% of the global disease burden. Alcohol use contributes to heart disease, liver disease, depression, some cancers, and many other health conditions. Alcohol also affects the well-being and health of people around those who drink, through alcohol-related crimes and road traffic crashes. The impact of alcohol use on disease and injury depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and the pattern of drinking. Most guidelines define long-term risky drinking as more than four drinks per day on average for men or more than two drinks per day for women (a “drink” is, roughly speaking, a can of beer or a small glass of wine), and short-term risky drinking (also called binge drinking) as seven or more drinks on a single occasion for men or five or more drinks on a single occasion for women. However, recent changes to the Australian guidelines acknowledge that a lower level of alcohol consumption is considered risky (with lifetime risky drinking defined as more than two drinks a day and binge drinking defined as more than four drinks on one occasion).
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2010, the World Health Assembly endorsed a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. This strategy emphasizes the importance of community action–a process in which a community defines its own needs and determines the actions that are required to meet these needs. Although community action is highly acceptable to community members, few studies have looked at the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. Here, the researchers undertake a cluster randomized controlled trial (the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities [AARC] project) to quantify the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms in rural communities in Australia. A cluster randomized trial compares outcomes in clusters of people (here, communities) who receive alternative interventions assigned through the play of chance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pair-matched 20 rural Australian communities according to the proportion of their population that was Aboriginal (rates of alcohol-related harm are disproportionately higher among Aboriginal individuals than among non-Aboriginal individuals in Australia; they are also higher among young people and males, but the proportions of these two groups across communities was comparable). They randomly assigned one member of each pair to the experimental group and implemented 13 interventions in these communities by negotiating with key individuals in each community to define and implement each intervention. Examples of interventions included general practitioner training in screening for alcohol use disorders and in implementing a brief intervention, and a school-based interactive session designed to reduce alcohol harm among young people. The researchers quantified the effectiveness of the interventions using routinely collected data on alcohol-related crime and road traffic crashes, and on hospital inpatient admissions for alcohol dependence or abuse (which were expected to increase in the experimental group if the intervention was effective because of more people seeking or being referred for treatment). They also examined drinking habits and experiences of alcohol-related harm, such as verbal abuse, among community members using pre- and post-intervention surveys. After implementation of the interventions, the rates of alcohol-related crime, road traffic crashes, and hospital admissions, and of risky and hazardous/harmful alcohol consumption (measured using a validated tool called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) were not statistically significantly different in the experimental and control communities (a difference in outcomes that is not statistically significantly different can occur by chance). However, the reported average weekly consumption of alcohol was 20% lower in the experimental communities after the intervention than in the control communities (equivalent to 1.9 fewer standard drinks per week per respondent) and there was less alcohol-related verbal abuse post-intervention in the experimental communities than in the control communities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide little evidence that community action reduced risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms in rural Australian communities. Although there was some evidence of significant reductions in self-reported weekly alcohol consumption and in experiences of alcohol-related verbal abuse, these findings must be interpreted cautiously because they are based on surveys with very low response rates. A larger or differently designed study might provide statistically significant evidence for the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption. However, given their findings, the researchers suggest that legislative approaches that are beyond the control of individual communities, such as alcohol taxation and restrictions on alcohol availability, may be required to effectively reduce alcohol harms. In other words, community action alone may not be the most effective way to reduce alcohol-related harm.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617.
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about alcohol; its fact sheet on alcohol includes information about the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health provides further information about alcohol, including information on control policies around the world
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has information about alcohol and its effects on health
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health that includes information on the health risks of excessive drinking
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including information on the risks of drinking too much, tools for calculating alcohol consumption, and personal stories about alcohol use problems
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol
More information about the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities project is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617
PMCID: PMC3949675  PMID: 24618831
3.  Alcohol Consumption at Midlife and Successful Ageing in Women: A Prospective Cohort Analysis in the Nurses' Health Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(9):e1001090.
Using the Nurses' Health Study, Qi Sun and colleagues examine whether moderate alcohol intake is associated with overall health and well-being among women who survive to older age.
Background
Observational studies have documented inverse associations between moderate alcohol consumption and risk of premature death. It is largely unknown whether moderate alcohol intake is also associated with overall health and well-being among populations who have survived to older age. In this study, we prospectively examined alcohol use assessed at midlife in relation to successful ageing in a cohort of US women.
Methods and Findings
Alcohol consumption at midlife was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Subsequently, successful ageing was defined in 13,894 Nurses' Health Study participants who survived to age 70 or older, and whose health status was continuously updated. “Successful ageing” was considered as being free of 11 major chronic diseases and having no major cognitive impairment, physical impairment, or mental health limitations. Analyses were restricted to the 98.1% of participants who were not heavier drinkers (>45 g/d) at midlife. Of all eligible study participants, 1,491 (10.7%) achieved successful ageing. After multivariable adjustment of potential confounders, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption at midlife was associated with modestly increased odds of successful ageing. The odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.0 (referent) for nondrinkers, 1.11 (0.96–1.29) for ≤5.0 g/d, 1.19 (1.01–1.40) for 5.1–15.0 g/d, 1.28 (1.03–1.58) for 15.1–30.0 g/d, and 1.24 (0.87–1.76) for 30.1–45.0 g/d. Meanwhile, independent of total alcohol intake, participants who drank alcohol at regular patterns throughout the week, rather than on a single occasion, had somewhat better odds of successful ageing; for example, the odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.29 (1.01–1.64) and 1.47 (1.14–1.90) for those drinking 3–4 days and 5–7 days per week in comparison with nondrinkers, respectively, whereas the odds ratio was 1.10 (0.94–1.30) for those drinking only 1–2 days per week.
Conclusions
These data suggest that regular, moderate consumption of alcohol at midlife may be related to a modest increase in overall health status among women who survive to older ages.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People have always drunk alcoholic beverages but throughout history there have been arguments about the risks and benefits of beer, wine, and spirits. It is clear that excessive alcohol use—heavy drinking (an average of more than two drinks per day for men or more than one drink per day for women; in the US, a “drink” is defined as 15 g of alcohol or, roughly speaking, a can of beer or a small glass of wine) or binge drinking (five or more drinks on a single occasion for men; 4 or more drinks at one time for women)—is harmful. It causes liver damage and increases the risk of developing some types of cancer. It contributes to depression and violence and interferes with relationships. And it is often implicated in fatal traffic accidents. However, in contrast to these and other harms associated with excessive alcohol use, moderate alcohol consumption seems to reduce the risk of specific diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cognitive decline (deterioration in learning, reasoning, and perception).
Why Was This Study Done?
Although people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have a reduced risk of premature death compared to abstainers or heavy drinkers, it is not known whether moderate alcohol consumption is associated with overall health among ageing populations. In many countries, elderly people are an increasingly large part of the population, so it is important to know how moderate alcohol consumption affects their well-being. In this study, the researchers examine the effect of alcohol consumption at midlife on successful ageing among the participants of the Nurses' Health Study. The researchers study the effect of midlife alcohol consumption because the chronic conditions that affect elderly people develop slowly and it is likely that factors in earlier life determine health in later life. Successful ageing is defined as being free of major chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, and having no major cognitive impairment, physical impairment, or mental health problems. The Nurses' Health Study enrolled 121,700 female registered nurses in 1976 to investigate the long-term effects of oral contraceptive use but has provided insights into many aspects of health and disease.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assessed the alcohol consumption of the study participants at midlife (average age 58 years) from food frequency questionnaires completed in 1980 and 1984. Successful ageing for 13,984 participants who survived past 70 years was assessed by analyzing biennial health status questionnaires and cognitive function test results. One tenth of the women achieved successful ageing. After allowing for other factors that might affect their health such as smoking, women who drank light or moderate amounts of alcohol had a modestly increased chance of successful ageing compared to nondrinkers. For example, compared to nondrinkers, women who drank 5–15 g of alcohol per day (between one-third and one drink per day) had about a 20% higher chance of successful ageing. Independent of total alcohol intake, women who drank alcohol regularly had a better chance of successful ageing than occasional drinkers. Thus, compared to nondrinkers, women who drank five to seven days a week had nearly a 50% greater chance of successful ageing whereas women who drank only one or two days a week had a similar likelihood of successful ageing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that regular, moderate consumption of alcohol at midlife may be related to a modest increase in overall health among women who survive to older ages. Because this is an observational study, it is possible that the women who drank moderately share other unknown characteristics that are actually responsible for their increased chance of successful ageing. Moreover, because all the study participants were women and most had European ancestry, these findings cannot be applied to men or to other ethnic groups. Nevertheless, these findings provide support for the 2010 US Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines, which state that consumption of up to one alcoholic drink per day for women and up to two alcoholic drinks per day for men may provide health benefits. Importantly, they also suggest that drinking alcohol regularly in moderation rather than occasional heavy drinking may be associated with a greater likelihood of successful ageing.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001090.
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has detailed information about alcohol and its effects on health, including a fact sheet on women and alcohol and a booklet entitled Alcohol, a woman's health issue
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including how to calculate consumption
The Nutrition Source, a website maintained by the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, has an article entitled Alcohol: balancing risks and benefits
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol and on seniors' health
Details of the Nurses' Health Study are available
The 2010 US Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines are available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001090
PMCID: PMC3167795  PMID: 21909248
4.  Is there an association between seeing incidents of alcohol or drug use in films and young Scottish adults' own alcohol or drug use? A cross sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:259.
Background
As the promotion of alcohol and tobacco to young people through direct advertising has become increasingly restricted, there has been greater interest in whether images of certain behaviours in films are associated with uptake of those behaviours in young people. Associations have been reported between exposure to smoking images in films and smoking initiation, and between exposure to film alcohol images and initiation of alcohol consumption, in younger adolescents in the USA and Germany. To date no studies have reported on film images of recreational drug use and young people's own drug use.
Methods
Cross sectional multivariable logistic regression analysis of data collected at age 19 (2002-4) from a cohort of young people (502 boys, 500 girls) previously surveyed at ages 11 (in 1994-5), 13 and 15 in schools in the West of Scotland. Outcome measures at age 19 were: exceeding the 'sensible drinking' guidelines ('heavy drinkers') and binge drinking (based on alcohol consumption reported in last week), and ever use of cannabis and of 'hard' drugs. The principle predictor variables were an estimate of exposure to images of alcohol, and of drug use, in films, controlling for factors related to the uptake of substance use in young people.
Results
A third of these young adults (33%) were classed as 'heavy drinkers' and half (47%) as 'binge drinkers' on the basis of their previous week's consumption. Over half (56%) reported ever use of cannabis and 13% ever use of one or more of the 'hard' drugs listed. There were linear trends in the percentage of heavy drinkers (p = .018) and binge drinkers (p = 0.012) by film alcohol exposure quartiles, and for ever use of cannabis by film drug exposure (p = .000), and for ever use of 'hard' drugs (p = .033). The odds ratios for heavy drinking (1.56, 95% CI 1.06-2.29 comparing highest with lowest quartile of film alcohol exposure) and binge drinking (1.59, 95% CI 1.10-2.30) were attenuated by adjustment for gender, social class, family background (parental structure, parental care and parental control), attitudes to risk-taking and rule-breaking, and qualifications (OR heavy drinking 1.42, 95% CI 0.95-2.13 and binge drinking 1.49, 95% CI 1.01-2.19), and further so when adjusting for friends' drinking status (when the odds ratios were no longer significant). A similar pattern was seen for ever use of cannabis and 'hard' drugs (unadjusted OR 1.80, 95% CI 1.24-2.62 and 1.57, 95% CI 0.91-2.69 respectively, 'fully' adjusted OR 1.41 (0.90-2.22 and 1.28 (0.66-2.47) respectively).
Conclusions
Despite some limitations, which are discussed, these cross-sectional results add to a body of work which suggests that it is important to design good longitudinal studies which can determine whether exposure to images of potentially health-damaging behaviours lead to uptake of these behaviours during adolescence and early adulthood, and to examine factors that might mediate this relationship.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-259
PMCID: PMC3123204  PMID: 21513542
alcohol; drugs; films; movies; adolescents
5.  Parental alcohol misuse and hazardous drinking among offspring in a general teenage population: gender-specific findings from the Young-HUNT 3 study 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1140.
Background
Parental alcohol misuse may negatively affect drinking behaviours among offspring, but it is unclear to what extent influences are gender-specific and dependent upon the actual drinking behaviour measured. The aim of this study was to investigate whether hazardous drinking among Norwegian teenage boys (N = 2538) and girls (N = 2494) was associated with paternal and maternal alcohol misuse (CAGE).
Methods
Definitions of hazardous drinking among offspring were based on self-reported alcohol consumption (in litres a year), frequency of drinking, and frequency of drunkenness. Based on this information, two composite measures of hazardous drinking were also constructed. Cross-sectional data from the Norwegian Young-HUNT 3 survey (2006–2008) were linked to information from biological parents who participated in the adult part of the HUNT study.
Results
Logistic regression analyses showed that both boys and girls with alcohol misusing fathers were more likely to report high levels of alcohol intake compared to others of the same age and gender. This was contrary to boys with misusing mothers, who reported less alcohol consumption than other boys. Among girls, but not boys, high frequency of drunkenness was associated with maternal as well as paternal misuse.
Conclusions
This study suggests that adolescent hazardous drinking is more prevalent among boys and girls with alcohol misusing parents versus those whose parents do not misuse alcohol. However, findings were gender specific and varied depending on the drinking outcomes under investigation. More evidence-based knowledge in this field is of great importance for better understanding the possible role paternal and maternal alcohol misuse may play in the development of hazardous alcohol drinking patterns among adolescent boys and girls.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1140
PMCID: PMC3866523  PMID: 24314020
Adolescence; Parents; Alcohol consumption; Alcohol misuse; Gender; Generations; Family; Environment
6.  Alcohol-related harm among university students in Hanoi, Vietnam 
Global Health Action  2013;6:10.3402/gha.v6i0.18857.
Introduction and Aim
This study examines the prevalence of and risk factors for alcohol-related harm and types of harm among medical students from Hanoi Medical University (Vietnam). Risk factors include aspects of drinking patterns and relevant socio-demographic variables.
Study Design and Methods
A cross-sectional study involving 1st to 6th year students (N=1216; response rate 96.5%). Of these, 210 students from each academic year were randomly selected from a sampling frame covering all students from each academic year. Data were collected using a questionnaire distributed in class by researchers. Drinkers completed 23 questions on alcohol-related harm categorized into: 1) ‘negative influence on daily activities’; 2) ‘social conflict’; 3) ‘loss of control, acute consequences, and withdrawal’; 4) ‘mental health conditions’; and 5) ‘physical and medical health problems’. Logistic and Poisson regression models were used to identify the predictors of alcohol-related harm and the amount of harm, respectively.
Results
The prevalence of alcohol use associated with at least one or more of the five types of harm was higher in men (81.8%) than in women (60.4%). In female and male students, the most common harm category was ‘loss of control, acute consequences, and withdrawal’ (51.8 and 75.6%, respectively), followed by ‘negative influence on daily activities’ (29.4 and 55.8%, respectively). Age, living away from home, and average number of standard drinks per occasion among male drinkers, and age and frequency of drinking per week among female drinkers were associated with alcohol-related harm.
Conclusions
These data suggest that alcohol-related harm represents a serious public health problem among young educated individuals in Vietnam. The risk factors indicate that prevention should be aimed at aspects of drinking patterns and specific subpopulations defined by gender, age, and (for men only) type of living situation.
doi:10.3402/gha.v6i0.18857
PMCID: PMC3562871  PMID: 23374703
female students; male students; alcohol-related harm; type of harm; drinking patterns; Vietnam
7.  Teenage drinking, alcohol availability and pricing: a cross-sectional study of risk and protective factors for alcohol-related harms in school children 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:380.
Background
There is a lack of empirical analyses examining how alcohol consumption patterns in children relate to harms. Such intelligence is required to inform parents, children and policy relating to the provision and use of alcohol during childhood. Here, we examine drinking habits and associated harms in 15-16 year olds and explore how this can inform public health advice on child drinking.
Methods
An opportunistic survey of 15-16 year olds (n = 9,833) in North West England was undertaken to determine alcohol consumption patterns, drink types consumed, drinking locations, methods of access and harms encountered. Cost per unit of alcohol was estimated based on a second survey of 29 retail outlets. Associations between demographics, drinking behaviours, alcohol pricing and negative outcomes (public drinking, forgetting things after drinking, violence when drunk and alcohol-related regretted sex) were examined.
Results
Proportions of drinkers having experienced violence when drunk (28.8%), alcohol-related regretted sex (12.5%) and forgetting things (45.3%), or reporting drinking in public places (35.8%), increased with drinking frequency, binge frequency and units consumed per week. At similar levels of consumption, experiencing any negative alcohol-related outcome was lower in those whose parents provided alcohol. Drunken violence was disproportionately associated with being male and greater deprivation while regretted sex and forgetting things after drinking were associated with being female. Independent of drinking behaviours, consuming cheaper alcohol was related to experiencing violence when drunk, forgetting things after drinking and drinking in public places.
Conclusion
There is no safe level of alcohol consumption for 15-16 year olds. However, while abstinence removes risk of harms from personal alcohol consumption, its promotion may also push children into accessing drink outside family environments and contribute to higher risks of harm. Strategies to reduce alcohol-related harms in children should ensure bingeing is avoided entirely, address the excessively low cost of many alcohol products, and tackle the ease with which it can be accessed, especially outside of supervised environments.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-380
PMCID: PMC2770487  PMID: 19818118
8.  Sex Differences in Alcohol Misuse and Estimated Blood Alcohol Concentrations Among Emergency Department Patients: Implications for Brief Interventions 
Objectives
The objective was to assess the relationship between alcohol use and misuse and patient sex among emergency department (ED) patients by comparing self-reported estimates of quantity and frequency of alcohol use; estimated blood alcohol concentrations (eBACs) when typically drinking, and during heavy episodic drinking (binging); and alcohol misuse severity, to understand sex differences in alcohol use and misuse for this population.
Methods
The authors surveyed a random sample of non-intoxicated, sub-critically ill or injured, 18 to 64 year-old English- or Spanish-speaking patients on randomly selected dates and times at two EDs during July 2009 and August 2009. Participants self-administered a questionnaire about their self-reported alcohol use during a typical month within the past 12 months, and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Using the formulae by Matthews and Miller, sex-specific eBACs were calculated for participants according to their reported weight and the number of reported alcoholic drinks consumed on days when typically drinking, and on days of heavy episodic (binge) drinking (≥ 5 drinks/occasion for men, ≥ 4 drinks for women). Sex-specific alcohol misuse severity levels (low-risk, harmful, hazardous, and dependence) were calculated using AUDIT scores. Wilcoxon rank-sum and Pearson’s chi-square tests were used to compare outcomes by sex. Negative binomial regression was used to assess the relationship between sex and the number of drinks consumed on a typical day, the number of days spent drinking and binging, and estimated AUDIT scores. Logistic regression was used to assess the outcome of the presence of binging according to sex. Multinomial logistic regression was used to compare by sex the percentage of days spent drinking and binging in one month, eBACs when typically drinking and when binging, and AUDIT at-risk drinking levels. Incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and adjusted odds ratios (AORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated. All models were adjusted for patient demographic characteristics.
Results
Of the 513 participants, 52.1% were women, 55.8% were white non-Hispanic, and their median age was 34 years (IQR 25 to 46 years). Men reported greater mean alcohol consumption than women when typically drinking (4.3 vs. 3.3 drinks per day; p < 0.001), and during heavy episodic drinking (8.6 vs. 5.3/drinks per occasion; p < 0.001). Men spent more days drinking (IRR 1.41, 95% CI = 1.19 to 1.65) and engaging in heavy episodic drinking (IRR 1.68, 95% CI = 1.31 to 2.17) than women. Additionally, men were more likely to engage in heavy episodic drinking (AOR 1.72, 95% CI = 1.16 to 2.56) than women. However, the mean eBACs for men and women were similar when typically drinking (0.05 vs. 0.06; p < 0.13) and during heavy episodic drinking (0.13 vs. 0.12; p < 0.13). Mean AUDIT scores were greater for men than women (7.5 vs. 5.3; p < 0.001), although alcohol misuse severity levels were similar between men and women (24.4% vs. 26.6% for hazardous, 2.8% vs. 2.2% for harmful, and 6.5% vs. 3.4% for dependence; p < 0.38).
Conclusions
Although men drink more than women, women have similar eBACs with comparable levels of alcohol misuse. Women may benefit from recognizing that they are reaching similar levels of intoxication compared to men. Addressing these differences and possible health implications in future ED brief interventions may induce changes in problematic alcohol use among women.
doi:10.1111/j.1553-2712.2012.01408.x
PMCID: PMC3424395  PMID: 22849748
9.  Does Drinking Location Matter? Profiles of Risky Single-Occasion Drinking by Location and Alcohol-Related Harm among Young Men 
In adolescents and young adults, acute consequences like injuries account for a substantial proportion of alcohol-related harm, especially in risky single-occasion (RSO) drinkers. The primary aim of the study was to characterize different drinking profiles in RSO drinkers according to drinking locations and their relationship to negative, alcohol-related consequences. The sample consisted of 2746 young men from the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors who had reported drinking six or more drinks on a single-occasion at least monthly over the preceding 12 months. Principal component analysis on the frequency and amount of drinking at 11 different locations was conducted, and 2 distinguishable components emerged: a non-party-dimension (loading high on theater/cinema, sport clubs, other clubs/societies, restaurants, and sport events) and a party-dimension (loading high on someone else’s home, pubs/bars, discos/nightclubs, outdoor public places, special events, and home). Differential impacts of drinking location profiles were observed on severe negative alcohol-related consequences (SAC). Relative to those classified as low or intermediate in both dimensions, no significant difference experiencing SAC was found among those who were classified as high in the non-party-dimension only. However, those who were classified as high in the party-dimension alone or in both dimensions were more likely to experience SAC. These differential effects remained after adjusting for alcohol consumption (volume and risky single-occasion drinking), personality traits, and peer-influence [adjusted OR = 0.83 (0.68–1.02), 1.57 (1.27–1.96), and 1.72 (1.23–2.41), respectively], indicating independent effects of drinking location on SAC. The inclusion of sociodemographic factors did not alter this association. The fact that this cluster of party-dimension locations seems to predispose young men to experiencing SAC has important implications for alcohol control policies.
doi:10.3389/fpubh.2014.00064
PMCID: PMC4050430  PMID: 24959529
drinking locations; drinking profiles; risky single-occasion drinking; negative alcohol-related consequences
10.  Motives to drink or not to drink: Longitudinal relations among personality, motives and alcohol use across adolescence and early adulthood 
Background
Adolescent selective intervention programs for alcohol have focused on the identification of youth at risk as a function of personality and associated alcohol-related cognitions. Research into the role of personality, drinking motivations, and alcohol-related outcomes has generally focused exclusively on motives to drink. We expand on this literature by focusing on both motives to drink and motives not drink across time from adolescence to early adulthood in a community sample.
Methods
Using three waves of data from three cohorts from the Rutgers Health and Human Development Project (n = 1380; 49.4% women), we modeled the influence of baseline alcohol consumption, disinhibition and harm avoidance (ages 15, 18 and 21 years) on drinking motives and motives not to drink three years later (ages 18, 21 and 24 years) and alcohol use and drinking-related problems seven years subsequently (ages 25, 28, 31 years).
Results
Path analytic models were relatively invariant across cohort. Across cohorts, disinhibition and baseline alcohol consumption related to later positive reinforcement drinking motives, but less consistency was found for the prediction of negative reinforcement motives to drink. While positive reinforcement motives were associated with greater alcohol consumption and problems seven years later, negative reinforcement motives were generally associated with problems alone. Positive reinforcement motives for drinking mediated relations between baseline consumption and later consumption. However, results were mixed when considering disinhibition as a predictor and drinking problems as an outcome. Similarly, personality and baseline consumption related to later motives not to drink and such motives predicted subsequent alcohol-related problems. However, mediation was not generally supported for pathways through motives to abstain.
Conclusions
The results of this study replicate and extend previous longitudinal findings with youth and add to the growing literature on motivations not to engage in alcohol use.
doi:10.1111/acer.12030
PMCID: PMC3620892  PMID: 23278843
Motives not to drink; drinking motives; alcohol use and problems; young adults
11.  A Population-Based Study on Alcohol and High-Risk Sexual Behaviors in Botswana 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e392.
Background
In Botswana, an estimated 24% of adults ages 15–49 years are infected with HIV. While alcohol use is strongly associated with HIV infection in Africa, few population-based studies have characterized the association of alcohol use with specific high-risk sexual behaviors.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cross-sectional, population-based study of 1,268 adults from five districts in Botswana using a stratified two-stage probability sample design. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess correlates of heavy alcohol consumption (>14 drinks/week for women, and >21 drinks/week for men) as a dependent variable. We also assessed gender-specific associations between alcohol use as a primary independent variable (categorized as none, moderate, problem and heavy drinking) and several risky sex outcomes including: (a) having unprotected sex with a nonmonogamous partner; (b) having multiple sexual partners; and (c) paying for or selling sex in exchange for money or other resources. Criteria for heavy drinking were met by 31% of men and 17% of women. Adjusted correlates of heavy alcohol use included male gender, intergenerational relationships (age gap ≥10 y), higher education, and living with a sexual partner. Among men, heavy alcohol use was associated with higher odds of all risky sex outcomes examined, including unprotected sex (AOR = 3.48; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.65 to 7.32), multiple partners (AOR = 3.08; 95% CI, 1.95 to 4.87), and paying for sex (AOR = 3.65; 95% CI, 2.58 to 12.37). Similarly, among women, heavy alcohol consumption was associated with higher odds of unprotected sex (AOR = 3.28; 95% CI, 1.71 to 6.28), multiple partners (AOR = 3.05; 95% CI, 1.83 to 5.07), and selling sex (AOR = 8.50; 95% CI, 3.41 to 21.18). A dose-response relationship was seen between alcohol use and risky sexual behaviors, with moderate drinkers at lower risk than both problem and heavy drinkers.
Conclusions
Alcohol use is associated with multiple risks for HIV transmission among both men and women. The findings of this study underscore the need to integrate alcohol abuse and HIV prevention efforts in Botswana and elsewhere.
Alcohol use is associated with multiple risks for HIV transmission in men and women. The findings underscore the need to integrate alcohol abuse and HIV prevention efforts in Botswana and elsewhere.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), is most commonly spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner. HIV enters the body through the lining of the sex organs, rectum, or mouth, and destroys immune system cells, leaving the infected person susceptible to other viruses and bacteria. Although HIV education and prevention campaigns emphasize the importance of safe sex in reducing HIV transmission, people continue to become infected by having unprotected sex (that is, not using a condom) with either a nonmonogamous partner or multiple sexual partners, or in situations where they are paying for or selling sex. Research in different populations suggested that heavy alcohol use is associated with risky sexual behaviors. This is because alcohol relaxes the brain and body, reduces inhibitions, and diminishes risk perception. Drinking alcohol may further increase the risk of becoming infected with HIV through its suppressive effects on the immune system.
Why Was This Study Done?
Alcohol abuse is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa where most HIV infections occur and has been associated with risky sexual behaviors. It may therefore be one of the most common, potentially modifiable HIV risk factors in this region. However, research to date has concentrated on the association between alcohol consumption and risky sex in people attending HIV-treatment clinics or recruited at beer halls, and these populations may not be representative of the general population of sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, the researchers have investigated the potential role of alcohol in perpetuating the HIV epidemic by undertaking a population-based study on alcohol use and high-risk sexual behaviors in Botswana. Nearly a quarter of adults are infected with HIV here, and alcohol abuse is also common, particularly in the townships.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited a random cross-section of people from the five districts of Botswana with the highest number of HIV-infected individuals and interviewed all 1,268 participants using a questionnaire. This included general questions about the participants (for example, their age and marital status) and questions about alcohol use, sexual behavior, and knowledge of HIV. Overall, 31% of the men in the study and 17% of the women were heavy drinkers—more than 21 drinks/week for men, 14 for women; a drink is half a pint of beer or a glass of wine. Heavy alcohol use was associated with being male, being in an intergenerational relationship (at least 10 years age difference between partners; intergenerational sex facilitates the continued spread of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa), having had more education, and living with a sexual partner. Among men, those who drank heavily were three to four times more likely to have unprotected sex or multiple partners or to pay for sex than nondrinkers. Among women, there was a similar association between heavy drinking and having unprotected sex or multiple partners, and heavy drinkers were eight times as likely to sell sex as nondrinkers. For both men and women, the more they drank, the more likely they were to have risky sex. The study did not address behavior among same-sex partnerships.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study indicates that heavy alcohol consumption is strongly and consistently associated with sexual risk behaviors in both men and women in Botswana. Because of the study design, it does not prove that heavy alcohol use is the cause of such behaviors but provides strong circumstantial evidence that this is the case. It is possible that these results may not apply to neighboring African countries—Botswana is unique in being relatively wealthy and in its government being strongly committed to tackling HIV. Nevertheless, taken together with the results of other studies, this research strongly argues for the need to deal with alcohol abuse within HIV prevention programs in sub-Saharan Africa. Strategies to do this could include education campaigns that target both alcohol use and HIV in schools and in social venues, including beer halls. But, stress the researchers, any strategy that is used must consider the cultural and social significance of alcohol use (in Botswana, alcohol use is a symbol of masculinity and high socioeconomic status) and must simultaneously tackle not only the overlap between alcohol use and risky sexual behavior but also the overlap between alcohol and other risk behaviors such as intergenerational sex.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030392.
US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases factsheet on HIV infection and AIDS
US Department of Health and Human Services information on AIDS
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on HIV/AIDS
US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism patient information on alcohol and HIV/AIDS]
Aidsmap, information on HIV and AIDS provided by the charity NAM,which includes some information on HIV infections and alcohol
AVERT information on HIV and AIDS in Botswana
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030392
PMCID: PMC1592342  PMID: 17032060
12.  Predictors of risky alcohol consumption in schoolchildren and their implications for preventing alcohol-related harm 
Background
While alcohol-related health and social problems amongst youths are increasing internationally, both consumption and associated harms are particularly high in British youth. Youth drinking patterns, including bingeing, frequent drinking and drinking in public spaces, are associated with increased risks of acute (e.g. violence) and long-term (e.g. alcohol-dependence) health problems. Here we examine economic, behavioural and demographic factors that predict these risky drinking behaviours among 15–16 year old schoolchildren who consume alcohol. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among schoolchildren in North West England (n = 10,271) using an anonymous questionnaire delivered in school settings. Analysis utilised logistic regression to identify independent predictors of risky drinking behaviour.
Results
Of all respondents, 87.9% drank alcohol. Of drinkers, 38.0% usually binged when drinking, 24.4% were frequent drinkers and 49.8% drank in public spaces. Binge, frequent and public drinking were strongly related to expendable income and to individuals buying their own alcohol. Obtaining alcohol from friends, older siblings and adults outside shops were also predictors of risky drinking amongst drinkers. However, being bought alcohol by parents was associated with both lower bingeing and drinking in public places. Membership of youth groups/teams was in general protective despite some association with bingeing.
Conclusion
Although previous studies have examined predictors of risky drinking, our analyses of access to alcohol and youth income have highlighted eradicating underage alcohol sales and increased understanding of children's spending as key considerations in reducing risky alcohol use. Parental provision of alcohol to children in a family environment may also be important in establishing child-parent dialogues on alcohol and moderating youth consumption. However, this will require supporting parents to ensure they develop only moderate drinking behaviours in their children and only when appropriate.
doi:10.1186/1747-597X-2-15
PMCID: PMC1878473  PMID: 17493261
13.  Effects of Intoxicating Free-Choice Alcohol Consumption During Adolescence on Drinking and Impulsivity During Adulthood in Selectively Bred High Alcohol Preferring Mice 
Background
Abuse of alcohol during adolescence continues to be a problem, and it has been shown that earlier onset of drinking predicts increased alcohol abuse problems later in life. High levels of impulsivity have been demonstrated to be characteristic of alcoholics, and impulsivity has also been shown to predict later alcohol use in teenage subjects, showing that impulsivity may precede the development of alcohol use disorders. These experiments examined adolescent drinking in a high-drinking, relatively impulsive mouse population, and assessed its effects on adult drinking and adult impulsivity.
Methods
Experiment 1: Selectively bred High-Alcohol Preferring (HAPII) mice were given either alcohol (free choice access) or water only for two weeks during middle adolescence or adulthood. All mice were given free choice access to alcohol 30 days later, in adulthood. Experiment 2: Adolescent HAPII mice drank alcohol and water, or water alone, for two weeks, and were then trained to perform a delay discounting task as adults to measure impulsivity. In each experiment, effects of volitional ethanol consumption on later behavior were assessed. We expected adolescent alcohol exposure to increase subsequent drinking and impulsivity.
Results
Mice consumed significant quantities of ethanol, reaching average blood ethanol concentrations (BECs) of 142 mg/dl (adolescent) or 154 mg/dl (adult) in Experiment 1. Adolescent mice in experiment 2 reached an average of 108 mg/dl. Mice exposed to alcohol in either adolescence or adulthood showed a transient increase in ethanol consumption, but we observed no differences in impulsivity in adult mice as a function of whether mice drank alcohol during adolescence.
Conclusions
These findings indicate that HAPII mice drink intoxicating levels of alcohol during both adolescence and adulthood, and that this volitional intake has long-term effects on subsequent drinking behavior. Nonetheless, this profound exposure to alcohol during adolescence does not increase impulsivity in adulthood, indicating that long-term changes in drinking are mediated by mechanisms other than impulsivity.
doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2012.01857.x
PMCID: PMC4259273  PMID: 22725646
alcoholism; impulsivity; adolescence; ethanol consumption; alcoholism animal model
14.  Conduct problem trajectories and alcohol use and misuse in mid to late adolescence 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2013;133(1):100-107.
Background
We consider the strength of the relationship between types of conduct problems in early life and pattern of alcohol use during adolescence.
Methods
Children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a UK birth-cohort, had their level of conduct problems assessed repeatedly from 4 to 13 years using the maternal report Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Developmental trajectories derived from these data were subsequently related to (i) patterns of alcohol use from 13 to 15 years, and (ii) hazardous alcohol used at age 16.
Results
Boys with ‘Adolescent Onset’ or ‘Early Onset Persistent’ conduct problems were much more likely to be high frequency drinkers between 13 and 15 years (OR 5.00 95% CI = [2.4, 10.6] and 3.9 95% CI = [2.1, 7.3] respectively) compared with those with Low or ‘Childhood Limited’ conduct. Adolescent Onset/Early Onset Persistent girls also had greater odds of this high-alcohol frequency drinking pattern (2.67 [1.4, 5.0] and 2.14 [1.2, 4.0] respectively). Associations were more moderate for risk of hazardous alcohol use at age 16. Compared to 32% among those with low conduct problems, over 40% of young people classified as showing Adolescent Onset/Early Onset Persistent conduct problems were drinking hazardously (OR 1.52 [1.09, 2.11] and 1.63 [1.22, 2.18] respectively).
Conclusions
Whilst persistent conduct problems greatly increase the risk of adolescent alcohol problems, the majority of adolescents reporting hazardous use at age 16 lack such a history. It is important, therefore, to undertake alcohol prevention among all young people as a priority, as well as target people with manifest conduct problems.
doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.05.025
PMCID: PMC3786043  PMID: 23787037
ALSPAC; Conduct problems; Alcohol use; Adolescence; Trajectory
15.  Living Alone and Alcohol-Related Mortality: A Population-Based Cohort Study from Finland 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(9):e1001094.
Kimmo Herttua and colleagues showed that living alone is associated with a substantially increased risk of alcohol-related mortality, irrespective of gender, socioeconomic status, or cause of death, and that this effect was exacerbated after a price reduction in alcohol in 2004.
Background
Social isolation and living alone are increasingly common in industrialised countries. However, few studies have investigated the potential public health implications of this trend. We estimated the relative risk of death from alcohol-related causes among individuals living alone and determined whether this risk changed after a large reduction in alcohol prices.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a population-based natural experimental study of a change in the price of alcohol that occurred because of new laws enacted in Finland in January and March of 2004, utilising national registers. The data are based on an 11% sample of the Finnish population aged 15–79 y supplemented with an oversample of deaths. The oversample covered 80% of all deaths during the periods January 1, 2000–December 31, 2003 (the four years immediately before the price reduction of alcohol), and January 1, 2004–December 31, 2007 (the four years immediately after the price reduction). Alcohol-related mortality was defined using both underlying and contributory causes of death. During the 8-y follow-up about 18,200 persons died due to alcohol-related causes. Among married or cohabiting people the increase in alcohol-related mortality was small or non-existing between the periods 2000–2003 and 2004–2007, whereas for those living alone, this increase was substantial, especially in men and women aged 50–69 y. For liver disease in men, the most common fatal alcohol-related disease, the age-adjusted risk ratio associated with living alone was 3.7 (95% confidence interval 3.3, 4.1) before and 4.9 (95% CI 4.4, 5.4) after the price reduction (p<0.001 for difference in risk ratios). In women, the corresponding risk ratios were 1.7 (95% CI 1.4, 2.1) and 2.4 (95% CI 2.0, 2.9), respectively (p ≤ 0.01). Living alone was also associated with other mortality from alcohol-related diseases (range of risk ratios 2.3 to 8.0) as well as deaths from accidents and violence with alcohol as a contributing cause (risk ratios between 2.1 and 4.7), both before and after the price reduction.
Conclusions
Living alone is associated with a substantially increased risk of alcohol-related mortality, irrespective of gender, socioeconomic status, or the specific cause of death. The greater availability of alcohol in Finland after legislation-instituted price reductions in the first three months of 2004 increased in particular the relative excess in fatal liver disease among individuals living alone.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Throughout most of human history, people have lived in tight-knit communities where there was likely to be someone to turn to for help, advice, or company. But the modern way of life in industrialized countries is greatly reducing the quantity and quality of social relationships. Instead of living in extended families, many people now live miles away from their relatives, often living and working alone. Others commute long distances to work, which leaves little time for socializing with friends or relatives. And many delay or forgo getting married and having children. Consequently, loneliness and social isolation are getting more common. In the UK, according to a recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation, 10% of people often feel lonely, a third have a close friend or relative who they think is very lonely, and half think people are getting lonelier in general. Similarly, over the past two decades, there has been a three-fold increase in the number of Americans who say they have no close confidants.
Why Was This Study Done?
Some experts think that loneliness is bad for human health. They point to studies that show that people with fewer social relationships die earlier on average than people with more social relationships. But does loneliness increase the risk of dying from specific causes? It is important to investigate the relationship between loneliness and cause-specific mortality (death) because, if for example, loneliness increases the risk of dying from alcohol-related causes (heavy drinking causes liver and heart damage, increases the risk of some cancers, contributes to depression, and increases the risk of death by violence or accident), doctors could advise their patients who live alone about safe drinking. But, although loneliness is recognized as both a contributor to and a consequence of alcohol abuse, there have been no large, population-based studies on the association between living alone and alcohol-related mortality. In this population-based study, the researchers estimate the association between living alone (an indicator of a lack of social relationships) and death from alcohol-related causes in Finland for four years before and four years after an alcohol price reduction in 2004 that increased alcohol consumption.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained information on about 80% of all people who died in Finland between 2000 and 2007 from Statistics Finland, which collects official Finnish statistics. During this period, about 18,200 people (two-thirds of whom lived alone) died from underlying alcohol-related causes (for example, liver disease and alcoholic poisoning) or contributory alcohol-related causes (for example, accidents, violence, and cardiovascular disease, with alcohol as a contributing cause). Among married and cohabiting people, the rate of alcohol-related mortality was similar in 2000–2003 and 2004–2007 but for people living alone (particularly those aged 50–69 years) the 2004 alcohol price reduction substantially increased the alcohol-related mortality rate. For liver disease in men, the risk ratio associated with living alone was 3.7 before and 4.9 after the price reduction. That is, between 2000 and 2003, men living alone were 3.7 times more likely to die of liver disease than married or cohabiting men; between 2004 and 2007, they were 4.9 times more likely to die of liver disease. In women, the corresponding risk ratios for liver disease were 1.7 and 2.4, respectively. Living alone was also associated with an increased risk of dying from other alcohol-related diseases and accidents and violence both before and after the price reduction.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in Finland, living alone is associated with an increased risk of alcohol-related mortality. Because of the study design, it is impossible to say whether living alone is a cause or a consequence of alcohol abuse, but the greater increase in alcohol-related deaths (particularly fatal liver disease) among people living alone compared to married and cohabiting people after the alcohol price reduction suggests that people living alone are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of increased alcohol availability. Further research in other countries is now needed to identify whether living alone is a cause or effect of alcohol abuse and to extend these findings to cultures where the pattern of alcohol consumption is different. However, the findings of this natural experiment suggest that living alone should be regarded as a potential risk marker for death from alcohol-related causes.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001094.
The Mental Health America Live Your Life Well webpage includes information about how social relationships improve mental and physical health
The Mental Health Foundation (a UK charity) presents the report The Lonely Society?
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has information about alcohol and its effects on health
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health that includes information on the health risks of excessive drinking
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including information on the risks of drinking too much, and personal stories about alcohol problems, including stories from people living alone (My drinks diary shock and I used to drink all day)
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001094
PMCID: PMC3176753  PMID: 21949642
16.  Comparing media and family predictors of alcohol use: a cohort study of US adolescents 
BMJ Open  2012;2(1):e000543.
Objective
To compare media/marketing exposures and family factors in predicting adolescent alcohol use.
Design
Cohort study.
Setting
Confidential telephone survey of adolescents in their homes.
Participants
Representative sample of 6522 US adolescents, aged 10–14 years at baseline and surveyed four times over 2 years.
Primary outcome measure
Time to alcohol onset and progression to binge drinking were assessed with two survival models. Predictors were movie alcohol exposure (MAE), ownership of alcohol-branded merchandise and characteristics of the family (parental alcohol use, home availability of alcohol and parenting). Covariates included sociodemographics, peer drinking and personality factors.
Results
Over the study period, the prevalence of adolescent ever use and binge drinking increased from 11% to 25% and from 4% to 13%, respectively. At baseline, the median estimated MAE from a population of 532 movies was 4.5 h and 11% owned alcohol-branded merchandise at time 2. Parental alcohol use (greater than or equal to weekly) was reported by 23% and 29% of adolescents could obtain alcohol from home. Peer drinking, MAE, alcohol-branded merchandise, age and rebelliousness were associated with both alcohol onset and progression to binge drinking. The adjusted hazard ratios for alcohol onset and binge drinking transition for high versus low MAE exposure were 2.13 (95% CI 1.76 to 2.57) and 1.63 (1.20 to 2.21), respectively, and MAE accounted for 28% and 20% of these transitions, respectively. Characteristics of the family were associated with alcohol onset but not with progression.
Conclusion
The results suggest that family focused interventions would have a larger impact on alcohol onset while limiting media and marketing exposure could help prevent both onset and progression.
Article summary
Article focus
Predictors of drinking during adolescence.
Particular focus on predicting onset versus binge drinking and media/marketing exposures versus family risk factors.
Key messages
Somewhat different risk factors exist for alcohol onset versus binge drinking.
Movie alcohol, alcohol marketing, friend drinking and sensation seeking predicted both outcomes.
Parent drinking, availability of alcohol at home and parenting predicted alcohol onset, not binge drinking.
Strengths and limitations
Strengths include longitudinal design, large sample size and analysis that accounted for attrition.
Limitations include inability to generalise beyond US adolescents or beyond this age bracket.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000543
PMCID: PMC3289988  PMID: 22349939
17.  Comparative Analysis of Alcohol Control Policies in 30 Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(4):e151.
Background
Alcohol consumption causes an estimated 4% of the global disease burden, prompting goverments to impose regulations to mitigate the adverse effects of alcohol. To assist public health leaders and policymakers, the authors developed a composite indicator—the Alcohol Policy Index—to gauge the strength of a country's alcohol control policies.
Methods and Findings
The Index generates a score based on policies from five regulatory domains—physical availability of alcohol, drinking context, alcohol prices, alcohol advertising, and operation of motor vehicles. The Index was applied to the 30 countries that compose the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between policy score and per capita alcohol consumption. Countries attained a median score of 42.4 of a possible 100 points, ranging from 14.5 (Luxembourg) to 67.3 (Norway). The analysis revealed a strong negative correlation between score and consumption (r = −0.57; p = 0.001): a 10-point increase in the score was associated with a one-liter decrease in absolute alcohol consumption per person per year (95% confidence interval, 0.4–1.5 l). A sensitivity analysis demonstrated the robustness of the Index by showing that countries' scores and ranks remained relatively stable in response to variations in methodological assumptions.
Conclusions
The strength of alcohol control policies, as estimated by the Alcohol Policy Index, varied widely among 30 countries located in Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia. The study revealed a clear inverse relationship between policy strength and alcohol consumption. The Index provides a straightforward tool for facilitating international comparisons. In addition, it can help policymakers review and strengthen existing regulations aimed at minimizing alcohol-related harm and estimate the likely impact of policy changes.
Using an index that gauges the strength of national alcohol policies, a clear inverse relationship was found between policy strength and alcohol consumption.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Alcohol drinking is now recognized as one of the most important risks to human health. Previous research studies (see the research article by Rodgers et al., linked below) have predicted that around 4% of the burden of disease worldwide comes about as a result of drinking alcohol, which can be a factor in a wide range of health problems. These include chronic diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver and certain cancers, as well as poor health resulting from trauma, violence, and accidental injuries. For these reasons, most governments try to control the consumption of alcohol through laws, although very few countries ban alcohol entirely.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although bodies such as the World Health Assembly have recommended that its member countries develop national control policies to prevent excessive alcohol use, there is a huge variation between national policies. It is also very unclear whether there is any link between the strictness of legislation regarding alcohol control in any given country and how much people in that country actually drink.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers carrying out this study had two broad goals. First, they wanted to develop an index (or scoring system) that would allow them and others to rate the strength of any given country's alcohol control policy. Second, they wanted to see whether there is any link between the strength of control policies on this index and the amount of alcohol that is drunk by people on average in each country. In order to develop the alcohol control index, the researchers chose five main areas relating to alcohol control. These five areas related to the availability of alcohol, the “drinking context,” pricing, advertising, and vehicles. Within each policy area, specific policy topics relating to prevention of alcohol consumption and harm were identified. Then, each of 30 countries within the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) were rated on this index using recent data from public reports and databases. The researchers also collected data on alcohol consumption within each country from the World Health Organization and used this to estimate the average amount drunk per person in a year. When the researchers plotted scores on their index against the average amount drunk per person per year, they saw a negative correlation. That is, the stronger the alcohol control policy in any given country, the less people seemed to drink. This worked out at around roughly a 10-point increase on the index equating to a one-liter drop in alcohol consumption per person per year. However, some countries did not seem to fit these predictions very well.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The finding that there is a link between the strength of alcohol control policies and amount of alcohol drinking does not necessarily mean that greater government control causes lower drinking rates. The relationship might just mean that some other variable (e.g., some cultural factor) plays a role in determining the amount that people drink as well as affecting national policies for alcohol control. However, the index developed here is a useful method for researchers and policy makers to measure changes in alcohol controls and therefore understand more clearly the factors that affect drinking rates. This study looked only at the connection between control measures and extent of alcohol consumption, and did not examine alcohol-related harm. Future research might focus on the links between controls and the harms caused by alcohol.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040151.
A Perspective in PLoS Medicine by Alison Ritter accompanies this article: “Comparing alcohol policies between countries: Science or silliness?”
Facts and figures on alcohol are available from the World Health Organization, including information about the burden of disease worldwide as a result of alcohol
Information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available about alcohol and public health
A 2004 PLoS Medicine research article includes discussion of the health burdens of alcohol: Rodgers A, Ezzati M, Vander Hoorn S, Lopez AD, Lin RB, et al. (2004) Distribution of major health risks: Findings from the global burden of disease study. PLoS Medicine 1(1): e27. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0010027
Current information about research on alcohol and alcoholism is available from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040151
PMCID: PMC1876414  PMID: 17455992
18.  The persistence of adolescent binge drinking into adulthood: findings from a 15-year prospective cohort study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(8):e003015.
Objectives
To examine the prevalence of binge drinking in adolescence and its persistence into adulthood in an Australian cohort.
Design
15-year prospective cohort study.
Setting
Victoria, Australia.
Participants
1943 adolescents were recruited from secondary schools at age 14–15 years.
Primary outcome measures
Levels of past-week ‘binge’ drinking (5+ standard drinks on a day, each 10 g alcohol) and ‘heavy binge’ drinking (20+ standard drinks on a day for males, 11+ for females) were assessed during six adolescent waves, and across three adult waves up to age 29 years.
Results
Half of the males (52%) and a third of the females (34%) reported past-week adolescent binge drinking. 90% of male and 70% of female adolescent-onset binge drinkers continued to binge in young adulthood; 70% of males and 48% of females who were not adolescent-onset binge drinkers reported young adult binge drinking. Past-week heavy bingeing was less common in adolescence than adulthood. Overall, 35% of the sample (95% CI 33% to 38%) reported past-week binge drinking in adolescence and young adulthood and one-third (33%; 30% to 35%) first reported binge drinking in young adulthood; only 7% of the sample (6–8%) had binge drinking in adolescence but not young adulthood. ‘Heavy binge’ drinking occurred in adolescence and young adulthood for 9% (8% to 10%); 8% (7% to 10%) reported it in adolescence but no longer in young adulthood; and 24% (22% to 26%) began ‘heavy binge’ drinking in young adulthood. Among adolescent binge drinkers (n=821), young adult binge and heavy binge drinking were predicted by being male, adolescent antisocial behaviour and adverse consequences of drinking in adolescence.
Conclusions
Binge alcohol use is common and persistent among young Australians. Efforts to prevent the onset of binge drinking during adolescence may substantially reduce harmful patterns of alcohol use in young adulthood.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003015
PMCID: PMC3753516  PMID: 23959750
Public Health; Epidemiology
19.  Drinking Patterns and Myocardial Infarction: A Linear Dose-Response Model 
Background
The relation of alcohol intake to cardiovascular health is complex, involving both protective and harmful effects, depending on the amount and pattern of consumption. Interpretation of data available on the nature of these relations is limited by lack of well-specified, mathematical models relating drinking patterns to alcohol-related consequences. Here we present such a model and apply it to data on myocardial infarction (MI).
Methods
The dose-response model derived assumes: 1) each instance of alcohol use has an effect that either increases or decreases the likelihood of an alcohol-related consequence, and 2) greater quantities of alcohol consumed on any drinking day add linearly to these increases or decreases in risk. Risk was reduced algebraically to a function of drinking frequency and dosage (volume minus frequency, a measure of the extent to which drinkers have more than one drink on days when they drink). In addition to estimating the joint impact of frequency and dosage, the model provides a method for calculating the point at which risk related to alcohol consumption is equal to background risk from other causes. A bootstrapped logistic regression based on the dose-response model was conducted using data from a case-control study to obtain the predicted probability of MI associated with current drinking patterns, controlling for covariates.
Results
MI risk decreased with increasing frequency of drinking, but increased as drinking dosage increased. Rates of increasing MI risk associated with drinking dosage were twice as high among women as they were among men. Relative to controls, lower MI risk was associated with consuming less than 4.55 drinks per drinking day for men (95% CI: 2.77 to 7.18) and less than 3.08 drinks per drinking day for women (95% CI: 1.35 to 5.16), increasing after these cross-over points were exceeded.
Conclusions
Use of a well-specified mathematical dose-response model provided precise estimates for the first time of how drinking frequency and dosage each contribute linearly to the overall impact of a given drinking pattern on MI risk in men and women.
doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2008.00836.x
PMCID: PMC2679679  PMID: 19032575
dose-response model; alcohol drinking pattern; alcohol-related disorders; public health; myocardial infarction
20.  Progressing from Light Experimentation to Heavy Episodic Drinking in Early and Middle Adolescence 
Journal of studies on alcohol  2004;65(4):494-500.
Objective
Few studies have examined psychological variables related to changes in drinking patterns from light experimentation with alcohol to heavy episodic drinking in early and middle adolescence. The present study examined parental and peer influences, gender and grade level as predictors of such changes in adolescent alcohol consumption.
Method
Approximately 1,420 light drinkers were analyzed from Wave 1 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Heavy episodic drinking activity was assessed 1 year later.
Results
Gender differences in transitions to heavy episodic drinking were observed, with males being more likely than females to make a transition. Parent parameter setting and communication variables, as well as peer variables at different grade levels, buffered these gender differences.
Conclusions
Adolescents who are light experimenters represent a high-risk group as a consequence of their initial consumption tendencies. Some of these adolescents graduated beyond simple experimentation and moved into patterns of consumption that could be considered dangerous. Our analyses implicated an array of parental-based buffers: parent involvement in the adolescent’s life, development of good communication patterns and expressions of warmth and affection. Minimizing associations with peers who consume alcohol may also have a buffering effect. There was evidence that these buffers may dampen gender differences not so much by affecting female drinking tendencies as by keeping males at reduced levels of alcohol consumption comparable to those of females.
PMCID: PMC2928558  PMID: 15376824
21.  Increases in alcohol consumption in women and elderly groups: evidence from an epidemiological study 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:207.
Background
In most Western countries, alcohol consumption continues to increase, specifically among women and older adults. Insight into these trends may aid intervention strategies. Here we present data on alcohol consumption by age and sex as well as associations between alcohol use and demographic lifestyle/traits. The data are from a large (N>16,000) population-based Dutch sample, ascertained based on the presence of twins in the family.
Methods
A set of 16 indicators of normative and problematic alcohol use was assessed in participants of the Netherlands Twin Register between 2009–2012 (ages 18–97; 6,052 men; 10,535 women). Alcohol consumption and demographic/lifestyle traits, including educational attainment, work-related/financial stress, urbanization, religiousness, smoking/cannabis initiation, and BMI were described by age and sex. Associations were examined by regressing aspects of alcohol use on age, sex, their interaction, and demographic/lifestyle variables.
Results
Age, sex, and initiation of cigarette and cannabis use were the most important predictors of alcohol use. Frequency of alcohol use was lowest between 18–25 years, with 3.2% of men and .6% of women drinking 6–7 times/week, and highest above age 65 years, with 30.6-32.7% of men and 20.2-22.0% of women drinking 6–7 times/week. Women consumed the lowest quantities of alcohol between 25–45 years, with a 5.7-5.9% prevalence of excessive drinking (>14 glasses/week), and the largest quantities between 55–65 years (15.5% excessive drinkers). Age at alcohol initiation, onset of regular drinking, and first alcohol intoxication were lowest between ages 18–25 years and highest above age 65 years. Among older participants, men initiated alcohol use and regular drinking earlier, and had lower age at first intoxication than women, but among young adults, no sex differences were observed.
Conclusions
Alcohol consumption was high in the elderly Dutch population, especially among women. Alcohol initiation, onset of regular drinking, and first alcohol intoxication occur at increasingly younger ages, and the previous gap between men and women in age at alcohol initiation, onset of regular drinking, and first alcohol intoxication has closed almost entirely. Heavy alcohol use was most strongly predicted by older age, sex (male), and initiation of smoking and cannabis use.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-207
PMCID: PMC3720280  PMID: 23497391
Alcohol consumption; Young adults; Women; Older adults; Epidemiology; Demographic variables; Lifestyle variables
22.  Parental knowledge of alcohol consumption: a cross sectional survey of 11–17 year old schoolchildren and their parents 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:412.
Background
Developing timely and effective strategies for preventing alcohol misuse in young people is required in order to prevent related harms since, worldwide, alcohol consumption was associated with 320,000 deaths amongst 15–29 year olds in 2004. Providing guidance and advice to parents is essential if alcohol misuse is to be reduced. However, prevention of risky behaviours is hampered if parents are unaware of the risks involved.
Methods
A cross-sectional school-based survey of parent–child dyads, simultaneously questioning 935 children aged 11–17 years old and their parent(s). Univariate and multivariate associations are reported between demography, alcohol behaviours and parental knowledge of their child’s alcohol consumption.
Results
41.1% (n = 384) of children reported drinking alcohol. Of these, 79.9% of their parents were aware of their child’s alcohol consumption. Children aged 11–14 years had over a twofold greater odds of consuming alcohol without parental knowledge compared with 15–17 year olds (AOR: 2.7, 95% CI: 1.3-5.7). Of parent–child dyads where the child reported consuming alcohol, 92.7% of parents reported that they had spoken to their child about alcohol at least once in the past three months, whereas 57.3% of their children reported that this had occurred. Children who consumed alcohol and whose parents did not know they drank alcohol were less likely to report having a parental discussion about alcohol in the last three months (AOR: 0.4, 95% CI: 0.1-1.0) or report lifetime receipt of at least one other parenting protective measure (AOR: 0.5, 95% CI: 0.2-0.9) compared with those children who drank alcohol with parental knowledge.
Conclusions
Whilst only small numbers of young adolescents in our sample were drinking alcohol compared with older adolescents, those who did were more likely to do so without their parents’ knowledge. These two factors combined (drinking earlier and drinking without parental knowledge) could place children at risk of immediate harm. Further research is essential to identify whether public health strategies should be developed which could support parents to employ lifestyle parenting techniques even before the parent believes the child to be at risk.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-412
PMCID: PMC3644497  PMID: 23631701
Alcohol; Parents; Adolescents
23.  Patterns of Alcohol Consumption among Male Adults at a Slum in Kolkata, India 
Globally, alcohol-abuse is a major cause of mortality and morbidity. Consumption of alcohol has increased in India in the recent decades. It is imperative to know the patterns of alcohol consumption among different types of consumers to launch a well-planned nationwide programme for the prevention and control of this devastating social pathology. This community-based, cross-sectional study was undertaken to identify the patterns of alcohol intake among different types of alcohol consumers and to assess the clinical signs of chronic harmful alcohol-use. A predesigned, pretested, semi-structured alcohol-use disorders identification test (AUDIT) questionnaire was used for interviewing males, aged >18 years, selected by random sampling from an updated household list of a randomly-selected sector of the service area of the Urban Health Centre in Chetla, Kolkata, West Bengal, India. Written informed consents were obtained from all the respondents. Relevant clinical examination for chronic harmful alcohol-use was done according to the AUDIT clinical screening procedures. The results revealed that 65.8% (150/228) were current consumers of alcohol; 14% were alcohol-dependents; 8% were hazardous or harmful consumers, and 78% were non-hazardous non-harmful consumers. The mean age of the respondents at the initiation of drinking alcohol was 20.8+5.9 years. Eighty-six percent of dependents (n=21) took both Indian-made foreign liquor and locally-made alcoholic beverages. The proportions of alcohol consumers who drank alone among alcohol-dependents, hazardous or harmful consumers, and non-hazardous non-harmful consumers were 71.4%, 50%, and 7.7% respectively, and the difference was significant (p<0.01). Forty-one percent of the consumers drank at public places and workplaces, which may be socially harmful. About 38% of the dependents purchased alcohol from unlicensed liquor shops. Only 16% expressed concerns for their drinking habit mainly to the past illness. The proportion of the concerned respondents was higher in the hazardous and harmful drinking patterns than in the non-hazardous non-harmful drinking pattern, and the difference was significant (p<0.05). About 62% of the dependents had clinical signs of chronic alcohol consumption. The presence of a considerable proportion of alcohol-dependents, the low mean age at initiation of drinking alcohol, and the habit of drinking in public places and workplaces are the main areas that need special emphasis by intervention programmes.
PMCID: PMC3312362  PMID: 22524122
Alcohol; Alcohol consumption; Alcohol dependence; Community-based studies, Crosssectional studies; Harmful drinking; Hazardous drinking; India
24.  Alcohol consumption and risky sexual behaviour in the fishing communities: evidence from two fish landing sites on Lake Victoria in Uganda 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1069.
Background
The fishing communities are among population groups that are most at risk of HIV infection, with some studies putting the HIV prevalence at 5 to 10 times higher than in the general population. Alcohol consumption has been identified as one of the major drivers of the sexual risk behaviour in the fishing communities. This paper investigates the relationship between alcohol consumption patterns and risky behaviour in two fishing communities on Lake Victoria.
Methods
Face-to-face interviews were conducted among 303 men and 172 women at the fish landing sites; categorised into fishermen, traders of fish or fish products and other merchandise, and service providers such as casual labourers and waitresses in bars and hotels, including 12 female sexual workers. Stratified random sampling methodology was used to select study units. Multivariable analysis was conducted to assess independent relationship between alcohol consumption and sexual risky behaviour. Measures of alcohol consumption included the alcohol use disorder test score (AUDIT), having gotten drunk in previous 30 days, drinking at least 2 times a week while measures for risky behaviour included engaging in transactional sex, inconsistent condom use, having sex with non-regular partner and having multiple sexual partners.
Results
The level of harmful use of alcohol in the two fishing communities was quite high as 62% of the male and 52% of the female drinkers had got drunk in previous 30 days. The level of risky sexual behaviour was equally high as 63% of the men and 59% of the women had unprotected sex at last sexual event. Of the 3 occupations fishermen had the highest levels of harmful use of alcohol and risky sexual behaviour followed by service providers judging from values of most indicators. The kind of alcohol consumption variables correlated with risky sexual behaviour variables, varied by occupation. Frequent alcohol consumption, higher AUDIT score, having got drunk, longer drinking hours and drinking any day of the week were strongly correlated with engaging in transactional sex among fishermen but fewer of the factors exhibited the same correlation among traders and service providers. Fishermen who drank 2 or more times a week were 7.9 times more likely to have had transactional sex (95% CI: 2.05-30.24) compared to those who never drank alcohol. A similar pattern was observed for traders and service providers at the landing sites. Inconsistent condom use or none use of condoms was not significantly correlated with any of the alcohol consumption indicator variables in multivariate analysis except for day of drinking among men.
Conclusion
Alcohol consumption is strongly correlated with having multiple sexual partners, sex with non-regular partner and engagement in transactional sex but not with consistent condom use at fish landing sites. However, the pattern and strength of this correlation differs by occupation. HIV risk reduction programs targeting the fishing communities should address alcohol consumption, particularly alcohol consumption before sexual contact. Different occupations may need different interventions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1069
PMCID: PMC3534008  PMID: 23231779
Risky sexual behaviour; HIV; AIDS; Alcohol consumption; Hazardous drinking; Harmful drinking; Harmful use of alcohol
25.  Quality of life and social engagement of alcohol abstainers and users among older adults in South Africa 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:316.
Background
The literature from developed countries suggests a relationship between alcohol use and quality of life and social engagement, where harmful drinkers have lower quality of life and less social engagement. Despite the high rates of harmful alcohol use in South Africa, little is known about the association between drinking pattern and quality of life and social engagement in this context. We aimed to determine if quality of life and social engagement varied across different drinking patterns among older South African adults, contributed to drinking pattern when controlling for socio-demographic factors, and varied differentially between genders.
Methods
This is a secondary analysis of data from the Survey on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE). Alcohol use was measured as self-reports of use over the previous seven days, and we constructed gender-specific alcohol variables. The WHO Quality of Life-scale was used to measure quality of life, and social engagement was measured by frequency of participation in social activities. We used ANOVA to observe differences in quality of life and social engagement scores across drinking patterns, and regression models were used to identify factors independently associated with drinking pattern.
Results
There were 2572 (84.4%) lifetime abstainers, and 475 (15.6%) persons who had a drink in the last 7 days. In bivariate analysis, quality of life was lowest among at risk drinking men compared to abstainers (OR = 0.21, p = 0.02), although this association was not significant in adjusted analysis. Social engagement did not vary statistically significantly across the drinking patterns in the total sample or within gender.
Conclusions
Quality of life and social engagement were not independently associated with drinking pattern among older adults in South Africa in this sample. In order to better understand their alcohol use, further exploratory research is warranted to identify other potentially relevant subjective factors of alcohol use among older adults in South Africa.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-316
PMCID: PMC4234309  PMID: 24708736
South Africa; Older adults; Drinking pattern; Quality of life; Social engagement

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