28 August 2015 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: 'Changing drinking culture' is a prominent goal in the Australian state of Victoria's current alcohol strategy-seeking a shift so that 'excessive drinking isn't seen as the norm'. As a social activity, there is a strong collective aspect to drinking and associated behaviour: customs within the drinking group and at the level of social worlds of drinking operate both to increase and to control drinking patterns and associated behaviours. The paper considers how risky drinkers and those in social worlds of heavy drinking experience others' expectations about drinking.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Using Victorian population survey responses (n = 2092 adults who had consumed alcohol in previous year) to identify those in a social world of group drinking, and a subcategory who are also risky drinkers, the paper explores pressures on those in these categories both to drink more and to drink less, whether from family members, from work colleagues, or from friends.

RESULTS: Those who are both risky and social drinkers are much more likely than other drinkers to report pressures to drink more from friends and workmates, and even from family members, although they more often report pressures from family members to drink less than to drink more.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Efforts to change a drinking culture, it is argued, must take account of the collective nature of drinking and of the interplay of influences at interpersonal and subcultural levels if they are to be effective in reducing rates of heavy drinking and alcohol problems.

28 August 2015 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

AIMS: To evaluate evidence of capacity for causal inference in studies of associations between parental and offspring alcohol consumption in the general population.

METHODS: A systematic search for, and narrative analysis of, prospective cohort studies of the consequences of drinking, except where assessed prenatally only, or with clinically derived instruments. Primary outcome measures were alcohol use or related problems in offspring, which were collected at least 3 years after exposure measures of parental drinking. The systematic review included 21 studies comprising 26 354 families or parent-child dyads with quantitative effect measures available for each study. Criteria for capacity of causal inference included 1) theory-driven approach and analysis; 2) analytic rigor; and 3) minimisation of sources of bias.

RESULTS: Four of 21 included studies filled several but not all criteria and were assessed to have some capacity for causal inference. These 4 studies found some evidence that parental drinking predicted drinking behaviour in adolescent offspring. The remaining 17 studies had little or no such capacity.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a fairly large and consistent literature demonstrating that more parental drinking is associated with more drinking in offspring. Despite this, existing evidence is insufficient to warrant causal inferences at this stage. This article is protected by copyright.

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23 July 2015 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of alcoholism, alcohol consumption amount, and alcohol consumption pattern on mortality in a general population sample.

METHOD: This study used a 1970 prospective population sample (double-phase random sample) of 2,300 individuals ages 18-65 years in Stockholm County, which was also linked to mortality registers. A total of 1,895 individuals participated in a semi-structured, baseline psychiatric interview with a psychiatrist and social worker. Alcoholism and other mental disorders were recorded according to the eighth revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-8). Information on the usual amount and frequency of alcohol consumption was collected at the psychiatric interview. Mortality up to year 2011 was assessed with Cox proportional hazard regression models.

RESULTS: At baseline, there were 65 men and 21 women diagnosed with alcoholism. During followup, there were 873 deaths in the study population of 1,895. Alcoholism was associated with increased mortality rate. Former drinkers, but not never-drinkers, also had increased risk for mortality compared with moderate drinkers. We found no associations between heavy consumption and mortality. Frequent heavy episodic drinking was uncommon but related to mortality before, but not after, adjusting for an alcoholism diagnosis.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrated that alcoholism-but not a reported high consumption of alcohol or frequent heavy episodic drinking-predicted a long-term risk of death.

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