Background: Previous research has suggested a positive risk-relationship between volume of consumption and adverse behavioral and social consequences of drinking. However, because the risk-relationship may be modified by factors such as pattern of drinking, attributes of social drinking contexts, and drunken comportment, the shape of the risk-function appear to be contingent upon the larger cultural context of drinking.
Methods: In this article, I use graphical risk-curve analyses and model estimations to assess how the risk of experiencing alcohol-related problems is associated with self-reported volume of alcohol consumption in the 3 Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) as well as Sweden and Italy. The analysis utilized data from 2 general population surveys (including Sweden plus Italy and the Baltic countries, respectively) with approximately 1,000 respondents from each country.
Results: The risk-curves for the 3 Baltic countries and Sweden were fairly parallel and clearly steeper than that for Italy. In the logistic regression models, the country-specific Baltic estimates were not entirely homogenous; for Estonia and Latvia, the estimates were similar to that for Sweden and significantly larger than that for Italy, whereas the estimate for Lithuania did not differ significantly from that for Italy. However, the negative binominal regression models suggested that increasing volume of consumption is associated with the risk of experiencing a larger number of different problems in all 3 Baltic countries and Sweden than in Italy. Overall, the result thus suggests that there is a significant relationship between volume of consumption and risk of experiencing alcohol-related problems in all countries but that the relationship generally is stronger in the Baltic countries and Sweden than in Italy.
Conclusions: The results were largely in line with the hypothesis of a European north to south gradient in the strength of the risk-relationship, but also add that most Baltic countries may be placed alongside the Nordic countries in this context. Because only volume of consumption is considered, the results cannot be used to specify which factors and mechanisms that actually modify the shape of the risk-function in each culture.