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Hayward, R. David, and Neal Krause. 2014. "The effect of belonging to an alcohol-proscribing religious group on the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and mortality." Social Science and Medicine, 101: 1-8.
The purpose of this study was to examine whether belonging to a religious group that proscribes alcohol use moderated the relationship between moderate alcohol use and mortality. Data came from the Americans' Changing Lives study, based on a representative probability sample of adults 25 and older in the US, including 3390 participants (2135 female). Survey data were collected in 1986, and mortality tracked by death certificate through 2005. Proportional hazards modeling indicated that, consistent with previous research, moderate alcohol consumption (two drinks or fewer per day on average) was related with lower mortality compared with both total abstention from alcohol and heavy consumption (more than two drinks per day) among participants who did not belong to an alcohol-proscribing group. By contrast, moderate drinkers who belonged to alcohol-proscribing groups had higher mortality risk compared with non-drinkers. Means comparisons suggested possible group differences including health behaviors (moderate drinkers in proscribing groups drank somewhat less often but more on each occasion and were more likely to smoke) and social relationships (they had fewer close friends, felt more isolated, and had more negative social interactions). Members of religious groups that proscribe alcohol use may have health risks associated with moderate alcohol use that are not present in the general population. Practitioners should be aware of religious cultural differences when assessing individuals' risk from alcohol use.