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Monday, January 23, 2012

Interactive Influences of Neighborhood and Individual Socioeconomic Status on Alcohol Consumption and Problems

To assess cross-level interactions between neighborhood and individual socioeconomic status (SES) on alcohol consumption and problems, and investigate three possible explanations for such interactions, including the double jeopardy, status inconsistency and relative deprivation hypotheses.

Data from the 2000 and 2005 US National Alcohol Surveys were linked to the 2000 US Census to define respondent census tracts as disadvantaged, middle-class and advantaged. Risk drinking (consumption exceeding national guidelines), monthly drunkenness and alcohol problems were examined among low-, middle- and high-SES past-year drinkers (n = 8728). Gender-stratified, multiple logistic regression models were employed, and for outcomes with a significant omnibus F-test, linear contrasts were used to interpret interactions.

Cross-level SES interactions observed for men indicated that residence in advantaged neighborhoods was associated with markedly elevated odds of risk drinking and drunkenness for low-SES men. Linear contrasts further revealed a nearly 5-fold increased risk for alcohol problems among these men, relative to middle-SES and high-SES men also living in advantaged neighborhoods. Among women, neighborhood disadvantage was related to increased risk for alcohol problems, but there were no significant SES interactions. These findings did not support theories of double jeopardy and status inconsistency.

Consistent with the relative deprivation hypothesis, findings highlight alcohol-related health risks among low-SES men living in affluent neighborhoods. Future research should assess whether this pattern extends to other health risk behaviors, investigate causal mechanisms and consider how gender may influence these.

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