Aims: To examine trends in alcohol drinking in different educational groups.
Methods: Data from three cross-sectional WHO MONICA surveys conducted in 1982-84, 1987, and 1991-92 were analysed to estimate trends in abstention, moderate, heavy, and sporadic heavy alcohol use in relation to level of education, age and smoking. In total, 6,695 Danish men and women aged 30, 40, 50, and 60 years were included.
Results: Alcohol drinking decreased in both men and women during the study period, but changes were only significant among the highest educated. In the highest educated men the prevalence of moderate alcohol use increased from 77 to 82%, while heavy alcohol use declined from 19 to 12%. In the highest educated women the prevalence of abstention increased from 15 to 22%, while moderate alcohol use declined from 78 to 68%.
Conclusion: During the 1980s, alcohol drinking decreased among the highest educated men and women and an educational gradient in alcohol drinking widened in men and attenuated in women.