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Drinking in context: the influence of gender and neighbourhood deprivation on alcohol consumption
  1. Flora I Matheson1,2,
  2. Heather L White3,
  3. Rahim Moineddin4,5,
  4. James R Dunn1,6,
  5. Richard H Glazier1,4,5
  1. 1Centre for Research on Inner City Health, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3Health Policy Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Ontario Canada
  4. 4Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  5. 5Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  6. 6Department of Health, Aging and Society, McMaster, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Flora I Matheson, Centre for Research on Inner City Health, St Michael's Hospital, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, ON M5B 1W8, Canada; mathesonf{at}


Background Findings from contextual studies have shown that living in both poor and affluent neighbourhoods increases the risk of drinking and drug use, but few studies have examined the connection between neighbourhood context and drinking from a gender perspective.

Methods We investigated the association between gender, neighbourhood deprivation and weekly drinking behaviour (number of drinks) in a national sample of 93 457 Canadians using multilevel zero-inflated Poisson regression. A cross-level interaction between gender and neighbourhood deprivation was examined while controlling for other potential risk factors.

Results 53% of Canadians reported having at least one drink in the last year (men=61%; women=46%). Among respondents who were drinkers, the average number of drinks per week was 6.4 with male drinkers reporting an average of 7.9 and female drinkers reporting an average of 4.6. Neighbourhood material deprivation was independently associated with weekly drinking. Findings from multilevel analysis showed a u-shaped curve between neighbourhood deprivation and drinking, but only for men. Men living in the poorest neighbourhoods drank more weekly (8.5 drinks) than men living in neighbourhoods of wealthy (4.5 drinks) and mid-range deprivation (3.7 drinks). No difference in drinking by neighbourhood material deprivation was observed among women.

Conclusion Men, like women, experience gender-specific health difficulties (eg, alcohol-related problems) suggesting the need for a gendered focus on policies and services related to women's and men's health. The challenge for public health and primary care is to work together to target risk-taking behaviours among men through treatment, prevention and cultural/educational messages aimed at building healthy lifestyles.

  • Gender
  • multilevel analysis
  • drinking behaviour
  • residence characteristics
  • alcohol drinking
  • alcohol & health
  • gender studies SI
  • multilevel models
  • population surveys
  • poverty

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  • Funding This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (standard research grant number 410-2005-2306).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Research Ethics Board, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.