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Study: Work Culture Determines Drinking Habits

A study published in the <I>Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine</I> suggests that companies that don't allow drinking in the workplace help curb employees' overall drinking habits.

The study polled more than 5,000 employees and managers of 16 different organizations, representing a range of different sectors, to put a finger on the pulse of their drinking behaviors and attitudes toward drinking. They were asked to reveal whether they thought alcohol boosted workplace morale, was good for business, alleviated boredom, improved health, was harmful or set a bad example. Their responses were tied in with those of their supervisors and managers, who also were quizzed about the drinking culture in their respective divisions.

Heavy drinkers who drank four or more drinks outside of work in a day represented 19 percent of those questioned. Some 8 percent had some alcohol on 5 or more days of the week outside of work, and 11 percent drank at work.

Overall, female employees who often attended religious services and those who cohabited were less likely to drink. Younger workers and smokers were more likely to imbibe.

Separate studies have indicated that heavy beer consumption – mostly seen among workers in blue-collar jobs – is strongly correlated with the fatality rate within occupations.

Stress, Hazardous Environments Could Impact Alcohol Consumption

According to the researchers, stress factors – such as having more than one job or working in a hazardous environment – also could have an impact on the amount of alcohol an employee consumes.

The researchers note that rates of heavy, frequent and workplace drinking were significantly lower in organizations that discouraged social drinking than in those that most tolerated it. Workers in organizations that discouraged social drinking were 45 percent less likely to be heavy drinkers than those in workplaces with a more relaxed attitude towards drinking. They also were 59 percent less likely to be frequent drinkers and 69 percent less likely to drink during the workday.

The study's authors conclude that the workplace drinking culture is crucial for changing drinking patterns and preventing alcohol problems, and should be included in public health initiatives.

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