Beliefs, motivations, and opinions about moderate drinking: A cross-sectional survey

Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
Family medicine (Impact Factor: 1.17). 04/2008; 40(3):188-95.
Source: PubMed


The relationship of moderate alcohol use and health remains controversial and uncertain. How physicians and patients react to this uncertainty is unknown.
We surveyed outpatients at a single urban medical center that provides primary and tertiary care. Participants completed a self-administered anonymous survey regarding their medical history, usual alcohol consumption, and preferences and opinions regarding moderate drinking, defined as a drink every 1 to 2 days. All English-speaking individuals ages 21 years and older were eligible.
A total of 878 outpatients participated, with a response rate of 79%. The median age was 47 years, and 57% were women. Approximately 60% of drinkers and 35% of abstainers agreed with the statement that moderate drinking is a healthy activity and that it is safe for most people. About one third of participants cited possible health benefits as part of their motivation for drinking alcohol. Those who cited health benefits tended to be older, consumed alcohol more frequently but with a lower quantity per drinking day, and were more likely to have a history of coronary heart disease. Only about 10% of participants identified breast cancer as a possible risk of moderate drinking. When asked whether they would be willing to consume one drink every 1--2 days if their doctor so recommended, 41% of abstainers and 72% of all drinkers were willing to do so.
A substantial number of medical outpatients cite health benefits as a motivation for drinking alcohol and a willingness to drink alcohol regularly if so recommended by a physician, although few recognize health risks from drinking alcohol.

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