Alcohol use disorders and perceived drinking norms: Ethnic differences in Israeli adults

Dvora Shmulewitz, Melanie M. Wall, Katherine M. Keyes, Efrat Aharonovich, Christina Aivadyan, Eliana Greenstein, Baruch Spivak, Abraham Weizman, Amos Frisch, Deborah Hasin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Individuals' perceptions of drinking accept- ability in their society (perceived injunctive drinking norms) are widely assumed to explain ethnic group differences in drinking and alcohol use disorders (AUDs), but this has never been formally tested. Immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union (FSU) are more likely to drink and report AUD symptoms than other Israelis. We tested perceived drinking norms as a mediator of differences between FSU immigrants and other Israelis in drinking and AUDs. Method: Adult household residents (N = 1,349) selected from the Israeli population register were assessed with a structured interview measuring drinking, AUD symptoms, and perceived drinking norms. Regression analyses were used to produce odds ratios (OR) and risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) to test differences between FSU immigrants and other Israelis on binary and graded outcomes. Mediation of FSU effects by perceived drinking norms was tested with bootstrapping procedures. Results: FSU immigrants were more likely than other Israelis to be current drinkers (OR = 2.39, CI [1.61, 3.55]), have higher maximum number of drinks per day (RR = 1.88, CI [1.64, 2.16]), have any AUD (OR = 1.75, CI [1.16, 2.64]), score higher on a continuous measure of AUD (RR = 1.44, CI [1.12, 1.84]), and perceive more permissive drinking norms (p <.0001). For all four drinking variables, the FSU group effect was at least partially mediated by perceived drinking norms. Conclusions: This is the first demonstration that drinking norms mediate ethnic differences in AUDs. This work contributes to understanding ethnic group differences in drinking and AUDs, potentially informing etiologic research and public policy aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)981-990
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Volume73
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2012

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