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Background: Increasing levels of risky alcohol consumption in older men observed in many countries, combined with trends for increased alcohol-related misuse by men during COVID, indicate a need to examine
alcohol use by older men during the pandemic.
Aim: To examine the prevalence and predictors of increased and hazardous alcohol consumption in older South Australian men during COVID-19 restrictions.
Method: Data collected in the latest (eighth) wave of the Men Androgen Inflammation Lifestyle Environment and Stress (MAILES) cohort study were interrogated. Participants were 746 community-dwelling older men (mean age 69 years) who completed a self-report survey on mental health, coping, COVID-related worries, and alcohol consumption during pandemic restrictions. Alcohol-related items asked about changes to overall consumption (analysed as increased vs. decreased/same) and number of standard drinks per occasion (analysed as <5 drinks [not hazardous consumption] vs. 5+ drinks [hazardous]). Two hierarchical binary logistic regressions were conducted to explore predictors of increased and hazardous alcohol intake.
Results: Eight percent of men reported increased alcohol intake and nine percent reported hazardous alcohol consumption during COVID-19 restrictions. Being in a younger age group (‘younger old’; OR=0.46, 95%CI=1.03, 2.28), having mild to severe depressive symptoms (OR=1.39, 95%CI=1.10, 5.05), and greater concern about becoming sick with COVID-19 (OR=1.52, 95%CI=1.03, 2.28) were predictive of increased alcohol consumption during restrictions. Younger age group (OR=0.46, 95%CI=0.34, 0.62) and greater concern about becoming sick with COVID-19 (OR=1.67, 95%CI=1.13, 2.51) were also predictive of hazardous alcohol consumption during this time.
Discussion: Men participating in longitudinal health study follow-ups may be less inclined to engage in unhelpful coping behaviours such as problematic alcohol use. Clinicians should regularly screen older men for risky alcohol consumption; a particular focus on screening ‘younger old’ men, those with more significant concerns around COVID-19, and those with depression symptoms may be warranted.
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