Drinking patterns, gender and health I: Attitudes and health practices

Michael R. Polen, Carla A. Green, Nancy A. Perrin, Bradley M. Anderson, Constance M. Weisner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Despite considerable research, relationships among gender, alcohol consumption, and health remain controversial, due to potential confounding by health-related attitudes and practices associated with drinking, measurement challenges, and marked gender differences in drinking. We examined gender/alcohol consumption differences in health-related attitudes and practices, and evaluated how these factors affected relationships among gender, alcohol consumption, and health status. Methods: A stratified random sample of adult health-plan members completed a mail survey, yielding 7884 respondents (2995 male/4889 female). Using multivariate analyses of covariance and adjusting for health-related attitudes, values, and practices, we examined gender differences in relationships between alcohol consumption and health. Results: More frequent heavy drinking was associated with worse health-related attitudes and values, worse feelings about visiting the doctor, and worse health-related practices. Relationships between health-related practices and alcohol use differed by gender, and daily or almost daily heavy drinking was associated with significantly lower physical and mental health for women compared to men. Drinking status (lifelong abstainers, former drinkers, and level of regular alcohol consumption) was related to health status and vitality, even after adjusting for health-related attitudes, values, and practices. Relationships did not differ by gender. Former drinkers reported lower physical and mental health status than either lifelong abstainers or current drinkers. Conclusions: Drinking status is independently related to physical health, mental health, and vitality, even after controlling for the health-related attitudes, values, and practices expected to confound these relationships. Among current drinkers, women who engage in very frequent heavy drinking have worse physical and mental health than their male counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-142
Number of pages21
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Alcohol drinking
  • Gender
  • Health behaviors
  • Health status
  • Health-related attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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