Socioeconomic differences in alcohol-related risk-taking behaviours Academic Article uri icon


  • INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: There is substantial research showing that low socioeconomic position is a predictor of negative outcomes from alcohol consumption, while alcohol consumption itself does not exhibit a strong social gradient. This study aims to examine socioeconomic differences in self-reported alcohol-related risk-taking behaviour to explore whether differences in risk-taking while drinking may explain some of the socioeconomic disparities in alcohol-related harm. DESIGN AND METHODS: Cross-sectional data from current drinkers (nā€‰=ā€‰21ā€‰452) in the 2010 wave of the Australian National Drug Strategy Household Survey were used. Ten items on risk-taking behaviour while drinking were combined into two risk scores, and zero-inflated Poisson regression was used to assess the relationship between socioeconomic position and risk-taking while controlling for age, sex and alcohol consumption. RESULTS: Socioeconomically advantaged respondents reported substantially higher rates of alcohol-related hazardous behaviour than socioeconomically disadvantaged respondents. Controlling for age, sex, volume of drinking and frequency of heavy drinking, respondents living in the most advantaged quintile of neighbourhoods reported significantly higher rates of hazardous behaviour than those in the least advantaged quintile. A similar pattern was evident for household income. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Socioeconomically advantaged Australians engage in alcohol-related risky behaviour at higher rates than more disadvantaged Australians even with alcohol consumption controlled. The significant socioeconomic disparities in negative consequences linked to alcohol consumption cannot in this instance be explained via differences in behaviour while drinking. Other factors not directly related to alcohol consumption may be responsible for health inequalities in outcomes with significant alcohol involvement.

publication date

  • 2014