Introduction In Russia hazardous alcohol consumption among men has a major impact on life expectancy. However, the harms associated with heavy drinking are likely to include adverse impacts on drinkers' partners and children. Relatively little is known about the potentially major impact of drinking on family conflict, separation and divorce. Attempting to resolve this issue is complex because drinking may both cause and reflect family problems, therefore longitudinal data are required.
Methods We investigated the association between problem drinking and subsequent family conflict and disruption in a population-based study in Izhevsk, Russia. Subjects were 1307 men aged 25–54 years who were married/cohabiting in 2003–2005. Follow-up data on their family situation was obtained in a resurvey in 2007–2009. Men and proxy respondents (generally partners) completed interviews asking about alcohol consumption, socio-demographic variables, and family relations. Logistic regression was used to see if baseline drinking predicted family conflict and partnership disruption at follow-up.
Results Baseline problem drinkers had a significantly higher risk of subsequent family conflict (OR 3.57, 95% CI 1.84 to 6.91) and partnership disruption (OR 3.17, 95% CI 1.67 to 6.02), after adjustment for age and socio-economic factors. Using proxy accounts, rather than index, produced stronger associations. Other significant predictors of family disruption were past financial problems and man's age.
Conclusions Using conventional and unconventional measures of drinking, the significantly increased risk of family disruption suggests that in Russia alcohol has a considerable effect on family relations. Collecting information from partners, as well as index respondents, may enhance identification of problem drinkers in surveys.
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