Background: The relationship between work-related stress and alcohol intake is uncertain. In order to add to the thus far inconsistent evidence from relatively small studies, we conducted individual-participant meta-analyses of the association between work-related stress (operationalised as self-reported job strain) and alcohol intake.
Methodology and principal findings: We analysed cross-sectional data from 12 European studies (n = 142 140) and longitudinal data from four studies (n = 48 646). Job strain and alcohol intake were self-reported. Job strain was analysed as a binary variable (strain vs. no strain). Alcohol intake was harmonised into the following categories: none, moderate (women: 1-14, men: 1-21 drinks/week), intermediate (women: 15-20, men: 22-27 drinks/week) and heavy (women: >20, men: >27 drinks/week). Cross-sectional associations were modelled using logistic regression and the results pooled in random effects meta-analyses. Longitudinal associations were examined using mixed effects logistic and modified Poisson regression. Compared to moderate drinkers, non-drinkers and (random effects odds ratio (OR): 1.10, 95% CI: 1.05, 1.14) and heavy drinkers (OR: 1.12, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.26) had higher odds of job strain. Intermediate drinkers, on the other hand, had lower odds of job strain (OR: 0.92, 95% CI: 0.86, 0.99). We found no clear evidence for longitudinal associations between job strain and alcohol intake.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that compared to moderate drinkers, non-drinkers and heavy drinkers are more likely and intermediate drinkers less likely to report work-related stress.