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031 ALCOHOL AND OCCUPATION IN AUSTRALIA: RESULTS FROM THE 2004–05 NATIONAL HEALTH SURVEY
The aim of this study was to provide the most recent estimates of Australia’s national alcohol consumption rates stratified by occupation.
Alcohol consumption data were extracted from the 2004–05 National Health Survey, which achieved a response rate of around 90% and captured approximately 26 000 persons in all occupational categories. Participants were limited to those of working age (18–64 years), with data stratified by job category and gender during the analysis. Alcohol consumption was based on an individual’s estimated daily consumption of alcohol during the previous week, with risk categories (high, medium and low-risk) adapted from international substance use guidelines.
The prevalence of high-risk alcohol consumption among Australian workers in 2004–05 was estimated to be 6.1%, with very little differences reported between the employed (6.5%) and unemployed (6.3%). More than half of those who were currently employed were low-risk drinkers (53.9%) however, compared to only 40.4% of the unemployed. By specific job category (both genders combined), high-risk alcohol consumption was most commonly seen among electrical tradespersons (13.7%) and the least common among education professionals (1.6%). Associate professionals were the most likely to be low-risk alcohol drinkers (67.0%), whereas elementary service workers were the least likely to be so (38.8%). Among Australian male workers, cleaners were the most likely to be high-risk alcohol drinkers (15.2%), and education professionals (2.0%) the least likely. Among female workers, 11.2% of elementary service workers were high-risk drinkers, compared to only 1.5% of education professionals.
Overall, the current study suggests that Australian alcohol consumption patterns vary widely depending on occupation. Aside from its negative effect on general health, high-risk alcohol consumption also has major implications in workplaces where safety may be compromised, particularly those where driving comprises a major part of daily work life. Effective harm reduction strategies and lifestyle support programs targeting vulnerable sections of the …