Gender Differences in Problem Drinking Trajectories

Investigator: Constance M. Weisner, DrPH
Sponsor: NIH National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Location(s): United States


This alcohol services secondary analysis application studies gender differences in a unique , longitudinal study of a probability sample of 672 untreated dependent and problem drinkers, and 926 individuals entering alcohol treatment. The original study interviewed respondents in 1995-96, and 1, 3, 5, and 7 years later. Our primary aim is to better understand gender differences among problem and dependent drinkers in the roles of demographic characteristics and problem severity ("individual characteristics"), contacts and interventions from alcohol treatment and other health and human service agencies ("formal services"), and from social networks and 12-step involvement ("informal influences") in improving drinking trajectories over a 7 year period. We build on the literature and our study to date. Previously we examined gender as an important control variable. Our findings suggest the need for greater attention to gender differences in addressing questions about the influences of medical, psychiatric, criminal justice, and welfare services, as well as the workplace, 12-step participation, and social networks on alcohol consumption over time. Our approach draws upon modern methods for longitudinal data analysis, and from our experience working with these and similar data. We will use both Growth Curve Analysis (GCA) and Latent Class Growth Modeling (LCGM). We propose to address carefully hypothesized analyses of gender differences based on the literature, as well as our empirical work on the sample, using hierarchical modeling to assess gender differences in alcohol treatment and community agency utilization, and in AA use, over the 7 years. We examine how individual characteristics, informal influences and formal services affect individual drinking trajectories for women and men. We also examine underlying latent classes based on volume of alcohol consumed and on drinking patterns, and their effects on alcohol-related problems for men and women over the 7 years. Our findings have implications for interventions by social networks, by community agencies, and by alcohol treatment agencies, and will contribute to our understanding of the impact of gender differences in drinking as they are evidenced over time.