Ahern, J., Sandro Galea, A. Hubbard, L. Midanik, and S.L. Syme. 2008. ""Culture of drinking" and individual problems with alcohol use." American Journal of Epidemiology, 167(9): 1041-1049.
Binge drinking is a substantial and growing health problem. Community norms about drinking and drunkenness may influence individual drinking problems. Using data from the New York Social Environment Study (n = 4,000) conducted in 2005, the authors examined the relation between aspects of the neighborhood drinking culture and individual alcohol use. They applied methods to address social strati. cation and social selection, both of which are challenges to interpreting neighborhood research. In adjusted models, permissive neighborhood drinking norms were associated with moderate drinking (odds ratio (OR) 1.28, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.05, 1.55) but not binge drinking; however, social network and individual drinking norms accounted for this association. By contrast, permissive neighborhood drunkenness norms were associated with more moderate drinking (OR 1.20, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.39) and binge drinking ( OR 1.92, 95% CI: 1.44, 2.56); the binge drinking association remained after adjustment for social network and individual drunkenness norms (OR 1.58, 95% CI: 1.20, 2.08). Drunkenness norms were more strongly associated with binge drinking for women than for men (p(interaction) = 0.006). Propensity distributions and adjustment for drinking history suggested that social strati. cation and social selection, respectively, were not plausible explanations for the observed results. Analyses that consider social and structural factors that shape harmful drinking may inform efforts targeting the problematic aspects of alcohol consumption.