Social, psychological and health characteristics associated with stability and change in adult alcohol consumption

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Background Many studies analyzing health effects of alcohol consumption have operationalized alcohol intake from a single baseline measure without further follow-up. Consequently, there is a lack of knowledge about stability and change in alcohol consumption over the life course and the social, psychological, lifestyle, and health characteristics associated with different alcohol consumption trajectories. Objectives The aims of the study were to describe the prevalence of different adult-life alcohol consumption trajectories among Danish men and to analyze social, psychological, lifestyle and health characteristics associated with these trajectories. Methods For 2510 Danish men, retrospective decade-based information on alcohol consumption during life period 26-60 years was obtained in late midlife and information on individual characteristics was obtained in young adulthood, late midlife and from national hospital registries. The men were allocated to one of six a priori defined alcohol consumption trajectories. Results About 65% of Danish men had a stable moderate consumption, drinking 1-21 units weekly while the five other consumption trajectories were comparatively rare: 3% stable abstainers, 4.7% stable high-risk drinkers, 10.9% with increasing and 12.7% with decreasing consumption. Moderate consumption over the adult life-course was associated with the most favorable social, psychological, lifestyle and health characteristics while the other trajectories were generally associated with less favorable characteristics to varying degrees-e. g. this was the case for the stable abstaining trajectory and in particular the trajectory with decreasing consumption. Conclusion The findings suggest that the majority of Danish men drink moderately in the life period from young adulthood to late midlife, and deviance from this ‘normal’ moderate consumption trajectory is associated with less favorable social, psychological, lifestyle and health characteristics. Some of these characteristics may influence alcohol consumption patterns, but for some of the trajectories, alcohol consumption may influence health as well as social and psychological functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0277511
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2022 Michelsen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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