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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Social Factors Associated with Alcohol Consumption in the Former Soviet Union: A Systematic Review

Alcohol consumption is a major cause of premature mortality in countries of the former Soviet Union (fSU). Despite the unique social profile of the region, we could find no published systematic review of studies of social factors and alcohol consumption in formerly Soviet countries. We aim to critically review the current evidence for social factors associated with alcohol consumption in the fSU and to identify key gaps in the literature.

We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and Global Health databases for cross-sectional, case–control, longitudinal or qualitative studies of demographic, socio-economic, psycho-social and contextual factors associated with alcohol consumption, in any language, published from 1991 until 16 December 2011. Additional studies were identified from the references of selected papers and expert consultation. Our review followed PRISMA guidelines for the reporting of systematic reviews.

Our search strategy resulted in 26 articles for review. Although there is strong evidence in the literature that males and smokers in the fSU are more likely to engage in hazardous alcohol consumption, findings regarding other social factors were mixed and there were almost no data on the association of contextual factors and alcohol consumption in this region.

This review highlights the extremely limited amount of evidence for social factors associated with heavy alcohol consumption in the fSU. Given the unique social environment of countries of the fSU, future research should take these factors into account in order to effectively address the high levels of alcohol-related mortality in this region.

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