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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 1995 Jul;50(4):S205-16.

The effects of negative life events on alcohol consumption among older men and women.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, USA.


We examined the effect of selected negative life events on changes in alcohol consumption in a prospective cohort study of community-dwelling persons 65 years of age and older. Using the Tension Reduction Hypothesis (TRH) as a framework, we tested the hypothesis that exposure to negative life events leads to increased alcohol consumption at follow-up (1985) after controlling for baseline alcohol consumption (1982) and covariates found to be associated with alcohol use. In addition, we modeled the interaction between exposure to events and baseline alcohol consumption. Among men, four of the eleven events tested were associated with higher alcohol consumption but only as interaction effects. Another two events were associated with decreased alcohol consumption. Among women, four significant interaction effects and two main effects were found in the expected direction. Two additional events were found to be associated with decreased drinking at follow-up. In general, alcohol consumption declined in the aggregate over the three-year period. Implications for the TRH are discussed.

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