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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 27;9(1):e87653. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087653. eCollection 2014.

The impact of stressful life events on excessive alcohol consumption in the French population: findings from the GAZEL cohort study.

Author information

1
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America ; Center for Community-Based Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
2
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
3
Mathematica Policy Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.
4
INSERM, UMRS 1018, Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, Population-based Cohorts Research Platform, Villejuif, France ; Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin, Versailles, France.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Major life changes may play a causative role in health through lifestyle factors, such as alcohol. The objective was to examine the impact of stressful life events on heavy alcohol consumption among French adults.

METHODS:

Trajectories of excessive alcohol consumption in 20,625 employees of the French national gas and electricity company for up to 5 years before and 5 years after an event, with annual measurements from 1992. We used repeated measures analysis of time series data indexed to events, employing generalized estimating equations.

RESULTS:

For women, excessive alcohol use increased before important purchase (p = 0.021), children leaving home (p<0.001), and death of loved ones (p = 0.03), and decreased before widowhood (p = 0.015); in the year straddling the event, increased consumption was observed for important purchase (p = 0.018) and retirement (p = 0.002); at the time of the event, consumption decreased for marriage (p = 0.002), divorce, widowhood, and death of loved one (all p<0.001), and increased for retirement (p = 0.035). For men, heavy alcohol consumption increased in the years up to and surrounding the death of loved ones, retirement, and important purchase (all p<0.001), and decreased after (all p<0.001, except death of loved one: p = 0.006); at the time of the event, consumption decreased for all events except for children leaving home and retirement, where we observed an increase (all p<0.001). For women and men, heavy alcohol consumption decreased prior to marriage and divorce and increased after (all p<0.001, except for women and marriage: p = 0.01).

CONCLUSION:

Stressful life events promote healthy and unhealthy alcohol consumption. Certain events impact alcohol intake temporarily while others have longer-term implications. Research should disentangle women's and men's distinct perceptions of events over time.

PMID:
24475318
PMCID:
PMC3903768
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0087653
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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