Kilian, C., Manthey, J., Kraus, L., Mäkelä, P., Moskalewicz, J., Sieroslawski, J.

A new perspective on European drinking cultures: a model-based approach to determine variations in drinking practices among 19 European countries


Addiction. doi: 10.1111/add.15408

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Background and aims In recent decades, alcohol drinking in the European Union has been characterized by increasing homogenization of levels of drinking coupled with an overall decrease. This study examined whether we can still distinguish distinct practices of drinking by addressing two research questions: (1) are drinking practices still characterized by the choice of a certain alcoholic beverage; and (2) how do drinking practices vary across countries?

Design Cross-sectional study: latent-class analyses of drinking variables and fractional response regression analyses of individual characteristics for individual-level class endorsement probabilities, respectively.

Setting Nineteen European countries and one autonomous community.

Participants A total of 27.170 past-year drinkers aged 18–65 years in 2015.

Measurements Data were collected through the Standardized European Alcohol Survey included frequency of past-year drinking, pure alcohol intake per drink day, occurrence of monthly risky single-occasion drinking and preferred beverage, together with socio-demographic data.

Findings Three latent classes were identified: (1) light to moderate drinking without risky single-occasion drinking [prevalence: 68.0%, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 66.7–69.3], (2) infrequent heavy drinking (prevalence: 12.6%, 95% CI = 11.5–13.7) and (3) regular drinking with at least monthly risky single-occasion drinking (prevalence: 19.4%, 95% CI = 18.1–20.9). Drinking classes differed considerably in beverage preference, with women reporting a generally higher share of wine and men of beer drinking. Light to moderate drinking without risky single-occasion drinking was the predominant drinking practice in all locations except for Lithuania, where infrequent heavy drinking (class 2) was equally popular. Socio-demographic factors and individual alcohol harm experiences (rapid alcohol online screen) explained up to 20.5% of the variability in class endorsement.

Conclusions Beverage preference appears to remain a decisive indicator for distinguishing Europeans’ drinking practices. In most European countries, multiple drinking practices appear to be present.


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