Alcohol Consumption and Risk for Dependence Among Male Latino Migrant Farmworkers Compared to Latino Nonfarmworkers in North Carolina

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2016 Feb;40(2):377-84. doi: 10.1111/acer.12969.


Background: Our aim was to describe alcohol consumption behavior of male Latino migrant farmworkers, compare their alcohol consumption behavior with that of other male Latino immigrants, and determine factors associated with risk for alcohol dependence among Latino immigrant workers.

Methods: Cross-sectional data were drawn from baseline interviews conducted as part of a larger community-based participatory research project examining the cognitive and neurological outcomes of pesticide exposure. A total of 235 farmworkers and 212 nonfarmworkers completed interviews between May and August 2012.

Results: Although 17.5% of the North Carolina Latino farmworkers report never having drunk alcohol, and a total of 34.5% report not having drunk alcohol in the previous 3 months, 48.5% engaged in heavy episodic drinking (HED) in the previous 3 months, and 23.8% frequently engaged in HED during this period. Farmworkers and nonfarmworkers did not differ significantly in alcohol consumption behavior. Farmworkers and nonfarmworkers did differ significantly in each component of the CAGE scale, with 37.9% of farmworkers and 16.0% of nonfarmworkers being at risk for alcohol dependence (p < 0.0001). Significant factors for being at risk for alcohol dependence were stress (odds ratio 1.06, 95% confidence interval 1.03, 1.09) and being a farmworker (odds ratio 3.58, 95% confidence interval 2.12, 6.06). Being married reduced the risk of alcohol dependence (odds ratio 0.45, 95% confidence interval 0.23, 0.87).

Conclusions: Latino farmworkers and nonfarmworkers consume relatively large amounts of alcohol and engage in HED at relatively high rates. Latino farmworkers have very high rates of risk for alcohol dependence. Policy changes and public health interventions are needed to address these concerns for a population that is vital to the agricultural economy.

Keywords: Alcohol Dependence; Farmworkers; Heavy Episodic Drinking; Immigrant Workers; Latinos.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / ethnology
  • Alcoholism / etiology*
  • Farmers / psychology
  • Farmers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Transients and Migrants / psychology
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data*