Gender equality in university sportspeople's drinking

Authors

  • KERRY S. O'BRIEN,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Health Sciences, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
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      Kerry S. O'Brien PhD, School of Health Sciences, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia

  • JACKIE HUNTER,

    1. Psychology Department, University of Otago, New Zealand
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    • 7

      Jackie Hunter PhD, Psychology Department, University of Otago, New Zealand

  • KYPROS KYPRI,

    1. University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
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      Kypros Kypri PhD, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

  • AJMOL ALI

    1. Department of Sport Sciences, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand
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      Ajmol Ali PhD, Department of Sport Sciences, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand.


School of Health Sciences, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia. Tel: +61 2 4221 5098. Fax: +61 2 4221 3486. E-mail: kobrien@uow.edu.au

Abstract

Introduction and Aims. In large population-based alcohol studies males are shown consistently to drink more, and more hazardously, than females. However, research from some countries suggests that gender differences in drinking are converging, with females drinking more than in the past. Large population-based research may miss gender-based changes in drinking behaviours that occur in sub-populations most at risk of hazardous drinking. We examine gender differences in a sub-population where hazardous drinking is common and endorsed, namely university sportspeople. Design and Methods. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and a drinking motives measure were used to assess hazardous drinking behaviours and drinking motives in 631 university sportspeople (females = 331, 52%). Results. There were no gender differences in AUDIT scores. However, drinking motives differed between genders, with coping motives being a significant predictor of hazardous drinking in females but not males. Hazardous drinking, including binge drinking (46.3%) and frequent binge drinking (35%), in New Zealand university sportspeople is high for both males and females. Discussion and Conclusions. New Zealand university sportspeople are one population where gender differences in drinking are not apparent and run counter to European population based research and research in US sporting populations. Gender role equality in the university systems, and endorsement of drinking in sporting culture, may account for the lack of gender differences in this New Zealand sporting population. Future research on gender differences in drinking should examine sub-populations where gender role differentiation is low, and socio-cultural/structural factors supporting gender equality are high.

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