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Alcohol consumption trajectories and self-rated health: findings from the Stockholm Public Health Cohort

19 Aug 2019

Objective

To investigate whether poor self-rated health and psychological distress are differentially associated with drinking trajectories over time.

Methods

From the Stockholm Public Health Cohort, two subcohorts surveyed in 2002–2010–2014 and 2006–2010–2014 (n=23 794 and n=34 667 at baseline, respectively) were used. Alcohol consumption, self-rated health, psychological distress (measured by General Health Questionnaire-12), lifestyle factors and longstanding illness were assessed by questionnaires. Demographic and socioeconomic variables were obtained by register linkage. Logistic regression was fitted to assess the associations with eight alcohol consumption trajectories, which were constructed among 30 228 individuals (13 898 and 16 330 from the 2002 and 2006 subcohorts, respectively) with measures of consumption at three time points.

Results

Compared with stable moderate drinkers, all other trajectories were associated with poor self-rated health with multiadjusted OR for stable non-drinkers of 2.35 (95% CIs 1.86 to 2.97), unstable non-drinkers (OR=2.58, 95% CI 1.54 to 3.32), former drinkers (OR=2.81, 95% CI 2.31 to 3.41) and stable heavy drinkers (OR=2.16, 95% CI 1.47 to 3.20). The associations were not fully explained by sociodemographic and lifestyle factors and longstanding illness. Former drinking, but no other trajectories, was associated with psychological distress (OR=1.24; 95% CI 1.10 to 1.41).

Conclusion

We found a U-shape association between alcohol trajectories and self-rated health, but not with psychological distress. Compared with stable moderate drinking, former drinking was associated with the highest odds of both poor self-rated health and psychological distress. The study confirms the importance of a life-course approach to examining the effect of alcohol consumption on health and highlights the poorer general and mental health status of non-drinkers who were former drinkers.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open