Published Papers - Abstract 41

Jonas HA, Dobson AJ & Brown WJ. Patterns of alcohol consumption in young Australian women: Associations with sociodemographic factors, lifestyle, health practices and physical health. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 2000; 24(2): 185-191

Objective: To determine which sociodemographic factors, health-related behaviours and physical health conditions are associated with non-drinking, binge drinking and hazardous/harmful drinking in young Australian women.Methods: Cross-sectional data were obtained from the baseline survey of 14,762 young women (aged 18-23 years) enrolled in the Women’s Health Australia study in 1996. Associations between drinking patterns and sociodemographic factors, health related behaviours and health conditions were examined.Results: Half the women were ‘low intake’ drinkers, a third ‘rarely drank’ and 9% were non-drinkers; however, 70% reported binge drinking with one quarter of the binge drinkers doing so at least weekly. Non-drinkers were more likely than drinkers to be married, pregnant, non-smokers, born in non-English speaking countries, to live in the Northern Territory, and to have lower levels of education, employment, and private health insurance. ‘Low intake/binge weekly’ drinkers (12%) and ‘hazardous/harmful’ drinkers (5%) were more likely than ‘low risk’ drinkers to be unmarried; to live in shared accommodation, alone or with their parents; to live in rural or remote areas; to have ever had any sexually transmitted infection; to be current smokers or ex-smokers and to have used unhealthy weight-control practices. Conclusions: These results confirm findings from other countries about the importance of social conditions as determinants of alcohol consumption by young women. Implications: Health promotion to reduce young women’s alcohol consumption needs to be carefully targeted to take account of their demographies, living environments and beliefs.