Perceived social capital and binge drinking in older adults: The Health and Retirement Study, US data from 2006-2014

E. Villalonga-Olives*, J. Almansa, F. Shaya, Ichiro Kawachi

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Objective: Social capital has been described as having both positive influences as well as negative influences ("the dark side") on health behaviors. We sought to test the association of perceived social capital on the risk of binge drinking among older adults, using a longitudinal design.

    Methods: We used HRS (Health and Retirement Study) data, a nationally representative sample of US adults aged >= 50 years evaluated every two years (from 2006 to 2014). We investigated the relationship between perceived social capital (neighborhood social cohesion and neighborhood physical disorder, positive social support and negative social support) and binge drinking over time, with a multilevel structural equation modelling (MSEM) approach, modelling number of binge-drinking days as hurdle negative binomial. We used MSEM estimating the associations at person level (overall) and within waves.

    Results: The sample included 19,140 individuals. At baseline mean age was 66.8 (SD 10.3). Over time, the number of binge drinking days decreased. Negative social support increased the average number of binge drinking days among those who drink, where one unit increase was associated with an increase of 37 % in the expected number of days binge drinking in the same wave. The association of positive social support on the number of binge drinking days was stronger for females (-0.59 (SE = 0.12)), while neighborhood social cohesion was significantly associated with binge drinking in females (-0.05 (SE = 0.01)), but not in males.

    Conclusions: Negative social support favored binge drinking. Positive social support and neighborhood social cohesion are protective factors for binge drinking, especially for women.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number108099
    Number of pages8
    JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
    Publication statusPublished - 1-Sep-2020


    • Social epidemiology
    • Older adults
    • Social capital
    • Binge drinking
    • Multilevel structural equation modelling
    • RISK
    • MODELS
    • ABUSE

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