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Addict Res Theory. 2010 Jul;18(2):143-159.

Drinking Patterns, Gender and Health II: Predictors of Preventive Service Use.

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Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, 3800 N. Interstate Avenue, Portland, OR 97227-1110, USA.



Chronic diseases and injuries are elevated among people with substance use problems/dependence, yet heavier drinkers use fewer routine and preventive health services than non-drinkers and moderate drinkers, while former drinkers and abstainers use more than moderate drinkers. Researchers hypothesize that drinking clusters with attitudes and practices that produce better health among moderate drinkers and that heavy drinkers avoid doctors until becoming ill, subsequently quitting and using more services. Gender differences in alcohol consumption, health-related attitudes, practices, and prevention-services use may affect these relationships.


A stratified random sample of health-plan members (7884; 2995 males, 4889 females) completed a mail survey that was linked to 24 months of health-plan records. Data were used to examine relationships between alcohol use, gender, health-related attitudes/practices, health, and prevention-service use.


Controlling for attitudes, practices, and health, female lifelong abstainers and former drinkers were less likely to have mammograms; individuals with alcohol use disorders and positive AUDIT scores were less likely to obtain influenza vaccinations. AUDIT-positive women were less likely to undergo colorectal screening than AUDIT-positive men. Consistent predictors of prevention-services use were: self-report of having a primary care provider (positive); disliking visiting the doctor (negative); smoking cigarettes (negative), and higher BMI (negative).


When factors associated with drinking are controlled, patterns of alcohol consumption have limited effects on preventive service use. Individuals with stigmatized behaviors (e.g., hazardous/harmful drinking, smoking, or high BMIs) are less likely to receive care. Making care experiences positive and carefully addressing stigmatized health practices could increase preventive service use.


Alcohol Drinking; Gender; Health Behaviors; Health Status; Health-related Attitudes; Preventive Care

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