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Alcohol Alcohol. 2006 Nov-Dec;41(6):650-4. Epub 2006 Oct 7.

Drinking histories of self-identified lifetime abstainers and occasional drinkers: findings from the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study.

Author information

1
National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia. Tanya.Caldwell@anu.edu.au

Abstract

AIMS:

To investigate the validity of retrospective items used to distinguish people who have rarely or never consumed alcohol.

METHODS:

The 1958 British Birth Cohort Study has followed 9377 individuals until age 45. Previous drinking (at 16, 23, 33 and 42 years) was investigated for two groups of 45-year-old non-drinkers, those reporting never having consumed alcohol ('never drinkers', n = 143, 1.5%), and having only consumed very infrequently ('occasional-only drinkers', n = 1149, 12.3%).

RESULTS:

67% of never drinkers previously reported drinking, 25% were past weekly/daily drinkers; 56% of occasional-only drinkers reported weekly/daily consumption. The validity of the retrospective items was progressively questionable when presumed to cover longer time periods.

CONCLUSIONS:

Substantial measurement error was evident when identifying 'occasional-only' and 'never' drinkers using retrospective items covering the lifecourse. Researchers investigating potential health benefits associated with moderate drinking need to incorporate more sophisticated methods when identifying sub-groups of non-drinkers.

Comment in

PMID:
17028305
DOI:
10.1093/alcalc/agl088
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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