Drinking behavior in relation to cause of death among US adults

Am J Public Health. 1994 Sep;84(9):1402-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.84.9.1402.


Objectives: Alcohol involvement is common in many fatal injuries. This study examines drinking behavior in a nationally representative sample of US adult decedents aged 25 through 64 years and its association with cause of death.

Methods: Proxy-reported information from the 1986 National Mortality Followback Survey was used to profile the decedents' usual frequency and quantity of drinking. The association of drinking behavior with underlying cause of death was assessed while adjusting for demographic characteristics.

Results: Of the decedents, 17% were daily drinkers, 22% usually consumed five drinks or more per occasion, and 27% were classified as heavier drinkers. Persons who died of injury drank more frequently and heavily than those who died of disease. The adjusted odds ratio of injury's being the underlying cause of death was 1.4 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.1, 1.8) for daily drinkers, 1.5 (95% CI = 1.1, 2.0) for those drinking five or more drinks per occasion, and 1.4 (95% CI = 1.1, 1.7) for heavier drinkers.

Conclusions: Daily drinking, binge drinking, and heavier drinking were each associated with an increased likelihood of injury as the underlying cause of death. Persons who were young, male, Native American, or divorced or separated were more likely to drink frequently and heavily.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Cause of Death*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sampling Studies
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality