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Drug Alcohol Rev. 2012 Nov;31(7):861-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2012.00424.x. Epub 2012 Mar 7.

Health-related lifestyle, physical and mental health in children of alcoholic parents.

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Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University in Ljubljana, Slovenia.



To identify potential differences between children of alcoholics (COAs) and controls in their health-related lifestyle, mental and physical health.


The recruitment of COAs took place in inpatient and outpatient treatment and rehabilitation units. Controls were recruited in elementary and high schools. 57 COAs (72% response rate) and 84 controls (88% response rate) aged between 12 and 18 years completed a postal questionnaire about their health-related lifestyle, and mental and physical health.


Bivariate analysis showed that COAs' families have higher unemployment rates and lower economic status (P = 0.000). COAs reported poorer school performance (P = 0.000), spending more time in sedentary (television: P = 0.000, Internet: P = 0.014, music: P = 0.040) and less time in physical activities (P = 0.048), having poorer eating habits (fruits and vegetables: P = 0.001, sweets: P = 0.001, fast food: P = 0.000, soft drinks: P = 0.004), a higher substance use (cigarettes: P = 0.030; marijuana: P = 0.564, heavy drinking: P = 0.050) and more mental health difficulties (emotional symptoms: P = 0.015, conduct problems: P = 0.012, suicidal tendencies: P = 0.007, mental disorder: P = 0.040). Among COAs, girls reported more emotional and somatic symptoms compared to boys (P = 0.020 and P = 0.047, respectively). Multivariate analysis showed that after controlling for socioeconomic status, significant mental health and health-related lifestyle inequalities between COAs and controls persist.


Our findings suggest that COAs have a less healthy lifestyle and more mental health difficulties above and beyond the poorer economic environment they live in.

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