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Addiction. 2010 Jul;105(7):1192-202. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.02931.x. Epub 2010 Apr 27.

Socio-economic status predicts drinking patterns but not alcohol-related consequences independently.

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1
Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand. t.huckle@massey.ac.nz

Abstract

AIM:

To identify independent relationships between socio-economic status and drinking patterns and related consequences and to identify socio-economic groups at risk for heavier consumption.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

Three comparable national telephone surveys were utilized: 1995, 2000 and 2004. The respondents were aged 18-65 years. Contextual information includes that a number of liberalized alcohol policy changes occurred over the time of the surveys.

RESULTS:

Educational qualification, income and occupation were associated independently with alcohol consumption. There were indications that the different dimensions of drinking (quantity and frequency) had different relationships with socio-economic status (SES). For example, lower SES groups drank heavier quantities while higher SES groups drank more frequently. SES, however, did not play a major role predicting drinking consequences once drinking patterns were controlled for, although there were some exceptions. It was the lower-to-average SES groups that were at greater risk for drinking heavier quantities compared to other SES groups in the population (as they had sustained increases in the quantities they consumed over time where other SES groups did not).

CONCLUSION:

Socio-economic status was related independently to drinking patterns and there were indications that SES interacted differently with the different dimensions of drinking (quantity and frequency). For the most part, socio-economic status was not related independently to the experience of alcohol-related consequences once drinking patterns were accounted for. It was the lower-to-average SES groups that were at greater risk for drinking heavier quantities compared to other SES groups in the population.

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