Home > Harms from a partner's drinking: an international study on adverse effects and reduced quality of life for women.

Callinan, Sarah and Rankin, Georgia and Room, Robin and Stanesby, O and Rao, Girish N and Waleewong, Orratai and Greenfield, TK and Hope, Ann and Laslett, Anne-Marie (2019) Harms from a partner's drinking: an international study on adverse effects and reduced quality of life for women. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 45, (2), pp. 170-178.

BACKGROUND: Partners of heavy drinking individuals can be detrimentally affected as a result of their partner's drinking.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to identify the proportion of heterosexual intimate partner relationships with a heavy drinking male that resulted in reported alcohol-related harm and to investigate the impact of this on well-being in 9 countries.

METHODS: This study used survey data from the Gender and Alcohol's Harm to Others (GENAHTO) Project on Alcohol's Harm to Others in 9 countries, (seven surveys are national and two are regional – India and Nigeria) undertaken between 2008 and 2015, in Australia, India, Ireland, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam. (10,613 female respondents, 7,091 with intimate live-in partners). Respondents were asked if their partners drinking had negatively affected them as well as questions on depression, anxiety, and satisfaction with life.

RESULTS: The proportion of partnered respondents that reported having a harmful heavy drinking partner varied across countries, from 4% in Nigeria and the US to 33% in Vietnam. The most consistent correlate of experiencing harm was being oneself a heavy episodic drinker, most likely as a proxy measure for the acceptability of alcohol consumption in social circles. Women with a harmful heavy drinking partner reported significantly lower mean satisfaction with life than those with a partner that did not drink heavily.

CONCLUSIONS: Harms to women from heavy drinking intimate partners appear across a range of subgroups and impact on a wide range of women, at least demographically speaking. Women living with a heavy drinking spouse experience higher levels of anxiety and depression symptoms and lower satisfaction with life.

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