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Research Summary

Drinking Patterns and Rates of Alcohol-Related Problems in Three Urban Populations

Average alcohol consumption is clearly related to alcohol consequences (both positive and negative). However, studies are beginning to suggest that drinking patterns also play an important role. Researchers examined whether drinking patterns, in addition to overall consumption, contributed to differences in alcohol-related problems. They analyzed interview data from 1118 men and 1125 women randomly selected from Russian, Czech Republic, and Polish population registries.

  • Russian men, compared with Czech and Polish men, were significantly more likely to report >=2 positive responses to the CAGE alcohol screening test (35%, 19%, and 14%, respectively) and >=2 negative consequences related to consumption (18%, 10%, and 8%, respectively). However, Russian men did not have the highest mean annual intake (5 liters versus 9 liters for Czech men and 4 liters for Polish men).
  • Russian men drank less frequently on average per year than did Czech and Polish men (67 drinking sessions, 179 sessions, and 79 sessions, respectively).
  • Russian men consumed much more on average per drinking session than did Czech and Polish men (mean 71 g, 45 g, and 46 g, respectively) and were more likely to drink >=80, >=120, or >=160 g of alcohol on an occasion.
  • Women drank less and had fewer negative consequences than did men. Further, patterns across the national samples of women did not differ significantly.


In this study, consuming large amounts per drinking session explained a substantial part of the differences in negative consequences among the 3 populations. These findings suggest that average consumption alone does not determine alcohol-related problems at the population level.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD


Bobak M, Room R, Pikhart H, et al. Contribution of drinking patterns to differences in rates of alcohol related problems between three urban populations. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2004;58(3):238–242.
(view abstract)