BACKGROUND: Studies have examined the self-rated health (SRH) of the drinker, but only few have examined the health of those affected by a heavy drinker. This Nordic study aimed to examine the association between exposure to heavy drinkers and SRH.
METHODS: Data come from surveys from the five Nordic countries that participated in the Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm Standardized European Survey in 2015 (n = 7065 aged 18-64 years). Variables included a five-point Likert-scale question on one's SRH, a question on whether the respondent knew a heavy drinker in the last 12 months, and covariates. The 'fair', 'poor' and 'very poor' response categories were combined and are referred to as poor SRH. Multiple logistic regression models were used to examine the relationship between knowing a heavy drinker and one's SRH.
RESULTS: Country-pooled adjusted analyses showed a significant relationship between knowing (and being negatively affected by) a heavy drinker and poor SRH [odds ratios (OR) = 1.39, 95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.02-1.89 for heavy drinker in household; OR = 1.23, 95% CI: 1.07-1.42 for other known heavy drinker, compared to not knowing a heavy drinker or knowing a heavy drinker, but not being negatively affected]. A graded relationship appeared such that increasing proximity of the known heavy drinker increased likelihood to report poor SRH.
CONCLUSION: Knowing and being negatively affected by someone close who drinks heavily increases the likelihood of reporting poor SRH. These results have implications for public health messaging regarding the well-being of relatives of heavy drinkers.