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Keywords:

  • Alcohol;
  • availability;
  • bar;
  • cohort study;
  • epidemiology;
  • multi-level study

Abstract

Aims

We examined whether distance from home to the nearest bar, i.e. alcohol outlet permitting consumption on the premises, is associated with risky alcohol behaviours.

Design

Cross-sectional and longitudinal study.

Setting and participants

The cross-sectional data consisted of 78 858 and the longitudinal data of 54 778 Finnish Public Sector Study participants between 2000 and 2009 [mean follow-up 6.8 years (SD = 2.0)].

Measurements

Distances from home to the nearest bar were calculated using Global Positioning System coordinates. The outcome variables were heavy alcohol use (drinking above the weekly guidelines) and extreme drinking occasions (passing out because of alcohol use). We used binomial logistic regression in cross-sectional analyses and in longitudinal mixed effects (between-individual) analyses. Conditional logistic regression was used in longitudinal fixed effects (within-individual) analyses.

Findings

Cross-sectionally, the likelihood of an extreme drinking occasion and heavy use was higher among those who resided <1 versus ≥ 1 km from a bar. Longitudinally, between individuals, a decrease from >1 km to ≤1 km in distance was weakly associated with an extreme drinking occasion [odds ratio (OR) 1.18, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.98–1.41] and heavy use (1.12, 95% CI 0.97–1.29). Within-individual, the OR for becoming a heavy user was 1.17 (95% CI 1.02–1.34), per 1 km decrease in log-transformed continuous distance, the corresponding OR for an extreme drinking occasion was 1.03 (95% CI 0.89–1.18).

Conclusions

Moving place of residence close to, or far from, a bar appears to be associated with a small corresponding increase or decrease in risky alcohol behaviour.