Alcohol consumption and mortality. I. Characteristics of drinking groups

Kaye Middleton Fillmore, Jacqueline M. Golding, Karen L. Graves, Steven Kniep, E. Victor Leino, Anders Romelsjö, Carlisle Shoemaker, Catherine R. Ager, Peter Allebeck, Heidi P. Ferrer, Salme Ahlstrom, Arvid Amundsen, Jules Angst, Gellisse Bagnall, Ann Brunswick, Remi Cadoret, Sally Casswell, Nancy DeCourville, Norman Giesbrecht, Bridget GrantThomas Greenfield, Joel Grube, Bernd Guether, Thomas Harford, Luděk Kubička, Michael R. Levenson, Mark Morgan, Harold Mulford, Leif Öjesjö, Martin Plant, Chris Power, Bruce Ritson, Lee Robins, David Rosen, Ronald Schlegel, Martin Sieber, Soren Sigvardsson, Rainer Silbereisen, Meir Teichman, Richard Wilsnack, Sharon Wilsnack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims. This is the first of a set of three papers evaluating drinking status and mortality risk. Analyses of multiple studies describe associations of drinking patterns with characteristics hypothesized to confound the relationships between status and mortality. Characteristics which both significantly differentiate drinking groups and are consistent across studies would suggest that mortality studies not controlling for them may be compromised. Design and participants. Associations are evaluated from the raw data of 10 general population studies which contained mortality data. Long-term abstainers are computed to former drinkers, long-term abstainers and former drinkers are compared to light drinkers (by quantity, frequency and volume in separate analyses) and moderate to heavy drinkers are compared to light drinkers. Tetrachoric correlation coefficients assess statistical significance; meta-analysis determines if associations are homogeneous across studies. Measurements. Measures of alcohol consumption are quantity, frequency and volume; long-term abstainers are differentiated from former drinkers. Multiple measures of health, social position, social integration and mental health characteristics are evaluated. Findings. Across studies, adult male former drinkers are consistently more likely to be heavier smokers, depressed, unemployed, lower SES and to have used marijuana than long-term abstainers. Adult female former drinkers are consistently more likely to be heavier smokers, in poorer health, not religious, and unmarried than long-term abstainers. Both types of abstainers tend to be of lower SES than light drinkers and report poorer health (not consistent). Female abstainers are more likely to be of normal or overweight than light drinkers. Conclusions. Characteristics of two groups of abstainers, other than their non-use of alcohol, may confound the associations found between drinking and mortality risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-203
Number of pages21
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998


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