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Addiction. 1998 Mar;93(3):411-21.

Gender differences in alcohol-related problems: controlling for drinking behaviour.

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  • 1Addiction Research Institute Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



Two hypotheses were tested to explain a high prevalence of alcohol-related problems among women relative to their low prevalence of excessive drinking: (1) At a given level of drinking, women may report more problems of any type than do men. (2) At a given level of drinking, the number of problems or the severity of the reported problems may be lower among women than among men.


General population survey.


Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


3537 Dutch respondents within the age range 16-69 years.


Alcohol-related problems were measured in five problem areas: psychological dependence, symptomatic drinking, social problems, health problems/accidents and frequent drunkenness/hangovers. A problem index was formed by adding up the scores in the five separate problem areas. Alcohol use was measured by the Quantity-Frequency-Variability index.


For the same level of drinking, women were as likely as men to report alcohol-related problems except that women light drinkers were actually less likely to report problems than men. Men tended to have a greater accumulation of different types of problems within drinking categories than women. Overall problem severity, however, did not differ between men and women. The apparent excess prevalence of alcohol problems in women relative to drinking level appears to be due to presence of problems even among light drinkers and a greater preponderance of light drinkers in women than men.


The first hypothesis was rejected; drinking levels being the same, the level of alcohol problems is the same or even lower for women than for men. As hypothesized, men tend to have a greater accumulation of different kinds of problems than women. However, the severity of the reported problems does not differ between men and women.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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