Older Australians’ alcohol-related risk perceptions, harm, and knowledge of drinking guidelines.

Nathan Harrison, Ann Roche, Victoria Kostadinov, Janine Chapman, Natalie Skinner

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    Background:Proportionally more older Australians are drinking at risky levels, while drinking in the general population has decreased and abstention has increased. The extent to which risky alcohol consumption aligns with perceptions of alcohol-related harm and knowledge of drinking guidelines among older people is unknown. This information is needed to develop appropriate behaviour change strategies and minimise alcohol-related risk for this group. Methods:This paper presents secondary analyses of large, nationally representative survey data (NDSHS, 2016) from older persons (aged 50 years and over; N=11,886). Self-report, single-occasion alcohol consumption risk was classified consistent with NHMRC (2009) guidelines. Perceived level of harm from current drinking and knowledge of drinking guidelines were also compared to younger age groups.Results:17.0% were risky drinkers. Accurate knowledge of low risk, single-occasion drinking levels was generallylow, but higher for male low-risk drinkers (14.5%) than risky drinkers (10.3%); conversely, it was higher among female risky drinkers (21.7%) than low-risk drinkers (15.7%). Older risky drinkers showed high awareness of standard drink units (97.0%) and labelling (84.3%); 40.1% categorised their current drinking as harmful (compared to 8.6% and 10.9% of low risk drinkers and abstainers,respectively), 9.7% reported it was beneficial, and another 41.3% reported that their drinking was neither harmful nor beneficial. Conclusions:Strategies to increase knowledge of low risk drinking guidelines and associated harms is required for older people. It is imperative to address uncertainty and ambiguity around safe drinking for older Australians and account for risk perceptions within this group for effective harm reduction.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAustralian Public Health Conference 2019
    Subtitle of host publicationCelebrating 50 years, poised to meet the challenges of the next 50 years
    PublisherPublic Health Association of Australia
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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