december 2010

Alcohol use trajectories in two cohorts of U.S. women aged 50 to 65 at baseline

OBJECTIVES: To examine drinking trajectories followed by two cohorts of older women over 8 to 10 years of follow-up.

DESIGN: Longitudinal analyses of two nationally representative cohorts using semiparametric group-based models weighted and adjusted for baseline age.

SETTING: Study data were obtained from detailed interviews conducted in the home or by telephone.

PARTICIPANTS: One cohort included 5,231 women in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) aged 50 to 65 in 1996; the other included 1,658 women in the National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) aged 50 to 65 in 1995.

MEASUREMENTS: Both cohorts reported any recent drinking and average number of drinks per drinking day using similar but not identical questions. HRS women completed six interviews (one every other year) from 1996 to 2006. NLS women completed five interviews from 1995 to 2003.

RESULTS: All trajectory models yielded similar results. For HRS women, four trajectory groups were observed in the model based on drinks per day: increasing drinkers (4.9% of cohort), infrequent and nondrinkers (61.8%), consistent drinkers (25.9%), and decreasing drinkers (7.4%). Corresponding NLS values from the drinks per day model were 8.8%, 61.4%, 21.2%, and 8.6%, respectively. In 2006, the average number of drinks per day for HRS women in the increasing drinker and consistent drinker trajectories was 1.31 and 1.59, respectively. In 2003, these values for NLS women were 0.99 and 1.38, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Most women do not markedly change their drinking behavior after age 50, but some increase their alcohol use substantially, whereas others continue to exceed current recommendations. These findings underscore the importance of periodically asking older women about their drinking to assess, advise, and assist those who may be at risk for developing alcohol-related problems.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Bobo J.K.; Greek A.A.; Klepinger D.H.; Herting J.R.
  • Issue

    J.Am.Geriatr.Soc. / pages 2375-2380 / volume 58
  • Published Date

    december 2010