Heavy Drinkers in the General Population: Comparison of two Measures
AbstractHeavy drinking is a composite phenomenon being operationalized in various and at times misleading ways. With the ultimate goal of comparing the magnitude of the association between the studied patterns of heavy drinking and alcohol-related problems as they apply to public health policy, this project involved the comparison of two criteria used to define ‘heavy drinking’ in a general health survey that was carried out in the Province of Quebec (Canada). A weekly volume of 29 drinks or more (heavy weekly volume), an intake of 8 drinks or more within the same day (binge drinking) and an ‘alcohol-related problems’ measure based on the CAGE questionnaire and some of the items of the DSM-III (problem drinking) were used as indicators. The major finding of this study was that, controlling for sex, education, psychological distress, previous hospitalisation for alcohol abuse and previous suicide attempts, the weekly volume of alcohol consumed is a better predictor of alcohol-related problems than is daily consumption. The results are discussed with respect to the implication on policy and prevention programs.