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Background: Alcohol use is a well-known risk factor for injury. However, information is needed about alcohol drinking patterns and the risk of injury among older adults in low- and middle-income countries as this population grows. We aimed to examine the influence of drinking patterns on the burden of injury and investigate factors associated with different types of injury in older populations in six emerging economies.
Methods: Data from more than 37,000 adults aged 50 years and older were included from the Study on Global AGEing and Adult Health (SAGE) Wave 1 conducted in six emerging economies, namely, China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa. We investigated past-year reported injuries from falls, traffic accidents, and being hit or stabbed. Alcohol drinking patterns were measured as lifetime abstinence, ever but not past- week use, and gender-specific past-week low-risk and high-risk use. We stratified by gender and used logistic regression models to observe the association between alcohol drinking pattern and risk of injury by controlling for other factors.
Results: During the year prior to interview, 627 (2.2%) subjects reported bodily injury resulting from a car accident, 1,156 (4.2%) from a fall, and 339 (0.9%) from being hit or stabbed during the past year. For women, only being a high-risk drinker increased the risk of being hit or stabbed, whereas for men, all levels of drinking were associated with an increased risk of being hit or stabbed. We observed a higher risk of being hit or stabbed from past-week high-risk drinking among women (odds ratio [OR] = 6.09, P < 0.01) than among men (OR = 3.57, P < 0.01). We observed no association between alcohol drinking pattern and injury due to car accidents for either women or men.
Conclusions: The risk of experiencing injury due to violence increased with level of alcohol exposure of the victim. The increase in alcohol use in emerging economies calls for further study into the consequences of alcohol use and for public health initiatives to reduce the risk of violence in older adult populations, with special attention to the experience of older adult women.
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