Abstract: Comparing Alcohol Availability at Work and Workplace Drinking Norms As Risk Factors for Young Adult High Risk Drinking in Australia and the United States (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

216 Comparing Alcohol Availability at Work and Workplace Drinking Norms As Risk Factors for Young Adult High Risk Drinking in Australia and the United States

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Grand Ballroom A (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Sabrina Oesterle, PhD, Research Associate Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Introduction: Little is known about the influence of the work context on alcohol misuse during young adulthood. The present study compared workplace alcohol availability and drinking norms in Australia and the U.S., two countries with different alcohol policies and cultures. Prior studies have shown that levels of some school, family, peer, and individual risk factors and prevalence of alcohol use in adolescence and young adulthood are higher in Australia, which allows legal drinking at age 18 and has adopted a harm reduction approach, compared to the U.S. “zero tolerance” policy. However, risk factors similarly predicted drinking despite differences in exposure to risk, providing cross-cultural validation for risk factors as relevant targets for interventions. The present study examined if workplace risk factors were similarly associated with alcohol misuse in young adulthood in both countries.

Methods: Data came from the International Youth Development Study (IYDS), a gender-balanced, statewide representative sample of the 2002 cohort of 7th grade students in the U.S. state of Washington (WA, n=961) and the Australian state of Victoria (VIC, n=984). The two states were matched on SES and urbanicity but differed in their approaches to alcohol. This study used self-report data collected at age 25 in 2014 (87% retention). Alcohol misuse was measured using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Logistic regression analyses were adjusted for gender, race, and drinking in adolescence.

Results: Young adults (YA) in VIC were significantly more likely than YA in WA to engage in risky drinking (29% vs. 17%), to report that alcohol was available at work (47% vs. 22%), that drinking at work was tolerated or encouraged (14% vs. 7%), that their coworkers drank at work or came to work under the influence of alcohol (32% vs. 26%), and that they themselves had used alcohol at work (including lunch and breaks) in the past year (26% vs. 14%). VIC YA were less likely to say that their workplace had a written alcohol policy (56% vs. 70%) and personal attitudes toward drinking at work (e.g., going to work with a hangover) did not differ across states. All of the workplace factors were significantly associated with higher risk drinking in both states (adjusted odds ratios of 1.3 to 4.7); but most risk factors were more predictive of YA drinking in the U.S. (with the exception of workplace tolerance of drinking and coworkers drinking at work).

Conclusions: Prevention of workplace alcohol availability and pro-drinking norms should be considered as viable targets for intervention during young adulthood.