Research Article: Alcohol use, acculturation and socioeconomic status among Hispanic/Latino men and women: The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos

Date Published: April 4, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Sheila F. Castañeda, Melawhy L. Garcia, Maria Lopez-Gurrola, Mark Stoutenberg, Kristen Emory, Martha L. Daviglus, Robert Kaplan, Aida L. Giachello, Kristine M. Molina, Krista M. Perreira, Marston E. Youngblood, Denise C. Vidot, Gregory A. Talavera, Antonio Palazón-Bru.


The objective of this study was to examine the prevalence and patterns of alcohol use among U.S. Hispanic/Latino adults of diverse backgrounds. The population-based Hispanic Community Health Study/ Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) enrolled a cohort of Hispanic/Latino adults (N = 16,415) ages 18–74 years at time of recruitment, from four US metropolitan areas between 2008–11. Drinking patterns and socio-demographics questionnaires were administered as part of the baseline examination. The relationship between age, sex, socio-demographics, acculturation, current alcohol use, and alcohol risk disorder, defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) [no risk (i.e., never drinker), low risk (i.e., women<7 drinks/week; men<14 drinks/week), and at-risk (i.e., women>7 drinks/week; men>14 drinks/week)] were assessed in unadjusted and adjusted multinomial logistic regression analyses. Men reported a higher prevalence than women of at-risk drinking. For women, increased odds of at-risk alcohol use was associated with: a younger age, greater education, full-time employment, and acculturation after adjustment. For men, having a lower income (vs. higher income) or a higher income (vs. not reported) and being employed fulltime (vs. retired) was associated with at-risk alcohol use. For both men and women, there were variations in odds of at-risk drinking across Hispanic/Latino heritage backgrounds, after adjustment. Exact values, odds ratios and p-values are reported within the text. Common factors across sex associated with at-risk drinking included being of Mexican background and being employed full-time. Intervention strategies should consider diversity within the Hispanic/Latino community when designing alcohol abuse prevention programs.

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Alcohol use has been associated with a variety of harmful health effects [1–3]. Potential health risks of alcohol use include unintentional injuries, violence against others, risky sexual behaviors, reproductive health issues, and alcohol poisoning [4, 5]. More distal health concerns include cardiovascular, neurological, psychiatric, behavioral, and social problems, as well as cancer and liver disease[5, 6]. Despite these risks and health concerns, evidence suggests that certain levels of alcohol intake may be cardio-protective[7] and reduce the risks of diabetes[8], metabolic syndrome[9] and stroke[10] when consumed in moderation.

The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) is a community-based prospective cohort study of 16,415 self-identified Hispanic/Latino persons, aged 18–74 years at baseline examination (2008 to 2011), from randomly selected households in four U.S. field centers (Chicago, IL; Miami, FL; Bronx, NY; San Diego, CA). The HCHS/SOL cohort includes participants who self-identified as having a Hispanic/Latino background (immigrant, second, or third generation) with the largest heritage groups being Mexican (n = 6,472), Puerto-Rican (n = 2,728), Cuban (n = 2,348), Central American (n = 1,732), Dominican (n = 1,473), and South American (n = 1,072)[27].

Data from the HCHS/SOL reveals new insights into the patterns and prevalence of alcohol use among diverse Hispanic/Latino heritage groups in the context of sex, socio-demographics and acculturation. Our results imply that for women, a younger age, greater acculturation, having greater than high school education, and being employed fulltime predicted current drinking (vs. never drinking) and at-risk drinking (vs. no risk) (Table 2). For men, age and acculturation were not associated with current drinking or at-risk drinking; however, socioeconomic indicators differentially predicted current or at-risk drinking. For men, being employed full time (versus retired) and having a lower income predicted at-risk use. Having a higher education (greater than high school versus high school/GED) predicted current use (Table 3).

To our knowledge, the HCHS/SOL study is the largest contemporary study to examine alcohol use and contributing factors among diverse Hispanic/Latino heritage groups. Results from this study show that prevalence and patterns of alcohol use vary among Hispanics/Latinos of diverse heritage, as well as by sex. Given the growing numbers of Mexican background individuals in the US, more research is needed to further examine factors that may contribute to at-risk alcohol use among this group. Further, more research is needed to examine acculturation levels and potential mediators (e.g., acculturative stress) and at-risk drinking for Hispanic/Latina women. Overall, these findings underlie the importance of tailoring research and intervention programs to examine socio-economic and sex-specific factors contributing to alcohol use among Hispanics/Latinos.




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