Association of life course socioeconomic disadvantage with future problem drinking and heavy drinking: gender differentials in the west of Scotland
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To examine gender differentials in the association between life course socioeconomic disadvantage and the risk of exceeding internationally recognised weekly and daily guidelines for ‘sensible’ alcohol consumption and problem drinking.
A population-representative cohort study of 1,218 men and women from the west of Scotland, UK was conducted. Data on life course socioeconomic position were collected in 1987/1988 (at around 35 years of age). Alcohol consumption patterns (detailed 7-day recall) and problem drinking (CAGE questionnaire) were ascertained in 1990/1992.
There was evidence of marked gender divergence in the socioeconomic position–alcohol intake/problem gradients. Typically, disadvantage in men conferred an increased risk of exceeding ‘sensible’ guidelines for weekly consumption (for own education and adult social class) and having alcohol problems (for employment status, income, adult social class and car ownership). In contrast, a reverse gradient was evident in women where adverse social status was generally associated with a reduced prevalence of these outcomes.
Investigators should consider more carefully socioeconomic patterning of alcohol intake, and possibly other health-related behaviours, separately in men and women.