Factors associated with alcohol-related physical health by race and gender

Date of Completion

January 2007


Black Studies|Social Work|Health Sciences, Public Health|Hispanic American Studies




Based upon a secondary data analysis of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), Wave 1, the influence of race and gender were examined for: (1) physical health consequences experienced by persons with alcohol dependence, and (2) factors associated with alcohol related physical health consequences. Non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white subjects with a lifetime diagnosis for alcohol dependence from the general population were selected for the study (n=3,812). ^ Race and gender differences in alcohol related health consequences were evaluated using linear regression analyses. A gender difference was initially identified with greater health consequences for men than women; however, this difference did not persist after controlling for age. Differences between whites and blacks were also identified with more alcohol related health consequences reported by blacks. Black women reported the largest mean number of health consequences, followed by black men, white men, and white women. ^ A multiple-group path analysis was utilized to assess the moderating effects of race and gender on factors associated with alcohol-related health. This study examined a modified version of the King and Williams (1995) theoretical model of race and health. Across subgroups (i.e. black women, black men, white women, and white men), medical care utilization, lifetime major depression, and heavy alcohol use predicted increased health consequences. Conversely, the socioeconomic factors of lower income and education had greater negative effects on health consequences for blacks than whites. There were no gender differences for the effects of psychiatric disorders on alcohol related health consequences, while years of heaviest drinking showed a stronger effect on poor health for blacks than whites, particularly for black women. ^ Study findings emphasize the importance of training social workers on the physical health problems and their potential risk factors experienced by individuals with alcohol dependence. The need for integrated care systems for alcohol dependent clients, with such key program components as medical care and services to address psychiatric disorders and heavy alcohol use was highlighted. Race and gender differences in predicting alcohol related health problems serve to identify opportunities for targeting services to vulnerable groups and tailoring programs to individual group needs. ^