Do women grow out of risky drinking? A prospective study of three cohorts of Australian women

Powers, Jennifer R., Anderson, Amy E., Byles, Julie E., Mishra, Gita and Loxton, Deborah J. (2015) Do women grow out of risky drinking? A prospective study of three cohorts of Australian women. Drug and Alcohol Review, 34 3: 278-288. doi:10.1111/dar.12246

Author Powers, Jennifer R.
Anderson, Amy E.
Byles, Julie E.
Mishra, Gita
Loxton, Deborah J.
Title Do women grow out of risky drinking? A prospective study of three cohorts of Australian women
Journal name Drug and Alcohol Review   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1465-3362
Publication date 2015-05
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/dar.12246
Open Access Status
Volume 34
Issue 3
Start page 278
End page 288
Total pages 11
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Introduction and Aims

To examine women's drinking behaviour relative to Australian guidelines and identify associated factors over the lifespan.

Design and Methods

Data came from three prospective cohorts of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health aged 18–23 (n = 14 247), 45–50 (n = 13 715) and 70–75 years (n = 12 432) when first surveyed in 1996. The same women were re-surveyed at roughly 3-year intervals until 2012. At each survey, four drinking behaviours were based on two guidelines: long-term drinking (no more than two standard drinks per day) and episodic drinking (no more than four standard drinks on an occasion): (i) no risk (within both guidelines); (ii) low episodic risk (less than once a month); high episodic risk (at least once a month); long-term risk (more than two drinks per day regardless of episodic drinking).


No risk drinking increased with age, low episodic risk drinking remained almost constant between ages 18 and 39, and high episodic risk drinking declined rapidly. Few women drank at long-term risk. Factors associated with risky drinking varied with age; however, being a past or current smoker consistently increased the risk, and risks for smokers increased with age. Risky drinking was less likely to be practised by women providing care and needing help with daily tasks, or by pregnant women and those living with children.

Discussion and Conclusions

Risky drinking behaviour should be addressed in younger women and in those who smoke. Interventions to reduce risky drinking, possibly in combination with reducing smoking, could be offered through general practice centres
Keyword Alcohol drinking
Adult women
Young adult
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
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