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Changing drinking pattern does not influence health perception: a longitudinal study of the atherosclerosis risk in communities study
  1. Marsha L Eigenbrodt1,
  2. Flávio D Fuchs2,
  3. David J Couper3,
  4. David C Goff, Jr4,
  5. Catherine Paton Sanford5,
  6. Richard G Hutchinson6,
  7. Zoran Bursac7
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology in the College of Public Health and Division of Cardiology in the College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, USA
  2. 2Division of Cardiology, Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre, UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil
  3. 3Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
  4. 4Public Health Sciences and Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, USA
  5. 5Department of Health and Human Services, Injury and Violence Prevention Unit, Raleigh, USA
  6. 6Department of Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, USA
  7. 7Department of Biostatistics in the College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr F D Fuchs
 Serviço de Cardiologia, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Ramiro Barcelos, 2350, 90.035-903, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; ffuchs{at}


Objective: To investigate if dynamic changes in the pattern of alcoholic beverages consumption are associated with modifications in health perception.

Design, setting, and participants: This study investigated 12 332 middle aged men and women from the atherosclerosis risk in communities study who reported drinking status and perceived health triennially from 1987 to 1995. Crude and adjusted risks for change in health perception between visits two and three by change in drinking status between visits one and two were computed. In the multivariate analysis the sample was restricted to participants with stable drinking status between visit two and three and stable health perception between visits one and two, to assure that exposure and outcome were not temporary. Covariates included age, sex, race, income, smoking status, educational level, and obesity.

Results: Health for persons who stopped or started drinking, or continued to abstain was more likely to decline than was health for persons who continued to drink even after adjustment and restrictions (drinking cessation: OR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.1, 2.3; started drinking; OR =  1.4, 95% CI = 0.9, 2.2; continued abstaining from alcohol: OR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.3, 1.9). Among participants with poor perceived health, starting, stopping, or continuing to abstain from alcohol did not improve health in relation to participants that continued to drink.

Conclusion: Increasing and decreasing drinking patterns and continuous abstinence were associated with declining health perception in comparison with continuous drinking, while starting or stopping drinking did not improve health perception of persons with poor perceived health. These findings suggest that change in health perception was not biologically related to alcohol consumption.

  • alcohol drinking
  • health perception

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  • Funding: The Atherosclerosis risk in communities study is carried out as a collaborative study supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute contracts NO1-HC-55015, NO1-HC-55016, NO1-HC-55018, NO1-HC-55019, NO1-HC-55020, NO1-HC-55021, NO1-HC-55022.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

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