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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2009 Jan;70(1):16-26.

Drinking context and drinking problems among black, white, and Hispanic men and women in the 1984, 1995, and 2005 U.S. National Alcohol Surveys.

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Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 6475 Christie Avenue, Suite 400, Emeryville, California 94608, USA.



The purpose of this study was to investigate the preferred drinking contexts of different gender and ethnic groups (white, black, and Hispanic men and women), by examining where these groups do most of their drinking and to what extent drinking contexts preferences are associated with certain drinking-related consequences.


The study used data from the 1984, 1995, and 2005 U.S. National Alcohol Surveys. Among current drinkers, cluster analyses of volume drunk in six contexts (restaurants, bars, others' parties, or when spending a quiet evening at home, having friends drop over at home, and hanging out in public places) were used to classify individuals by their drinking context preferences in each gender by ethnicity subgroup.


We identified three highly similar drinking context-preference clusters within each of the six subgroups: (1) bar-plus group (did most drinking in bars, plus much in other venues), (2) home group (did most drinking at home, and a fair amount elsewhere), and (3) light group (drank almost nothing quietly at home and also less in other settings than the other two clusters). For a number of ethnic-by-gender groups, context preference group assignment predicted drinking-related problems, over and above general drinking patterns. For example, for all groups, the bar-plus preference group relative to the light group showed higher risk of arguments, fighting, and drunk driving, after taking into account the volume consumed, frequency of heavy drinking, age, and year of survey.


Examining individuals' preferred drinking contexts may provide important information to augment overall drinking patterns in risk and prevention studies.

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