Alcohol drinking pattern and subjective health in a population-based study

Addiction. 2006 Sep;101(9):1265-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01517.x.


Aims: Some patterns of alcohol consumption (e.g. binge drinking, drinking outside of meals) have been associated with detrimental effects on health outcomes. Subjective health provides a global assessment of health status and is a strong predictor of total mortality; however, little is known about its relationship with alcohol drinking pattern. The association between several drinking patterns (i.e. drinking intensity and frequency, frequency of intoxication, drinking outside of meals, and beverage type) and subjective health was examined in a random sample of 3586 women and men.

Design: A population-based cross-sectional study.

Methods: Subjective health was assessed using the physical and mental health component summaries of the Short Form-36 health survey questionnaire. Alcohol consumption refers to the 30 days before the interview. Analysis of covariance compared gender-specific mean scores across alcohol drinking patterns.

Findings: Overall, non-current drinkers reported poorer physical and mental health than life-time abstainers and current drinkers, while no consistent differences were found between life-time abstainers and current drinkers. In female current drinkers, daily drinking, beer and mixed beverage consumption were associated with better mental health. In male current drinkers, moderate alcohol consumption (2-2.9 drinks per day), wine and mixed beverage consumption were associated with better physical health. Intoxication and liquor consumption were associated with poorer mental health in women and poorer physical health in men. No consistent associations were found for drinking outside meals.

Conclusions: Aspects of drinking pattern may affect subjective health differentially in women and men. Overall, intoxication and liquor drinking are associated with poorer self-perceived health status than regular, moderate consumption of other alcoholic beverages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Beer
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wine