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Heavy drinking and health promotion activities

  • Ettner, Susan L.
  • French, Michael T.
  • Popovici, Ioana

Empirical evidence suggests that individuals who consume relatively large amounts of alcohol are more likely to use expensive acute medical care and less likely to use preventive or ambulatory services than other individuals. The few studies that investigated the associations between heavy drinking and health promotion activities did not try to address omitted-variable biases that may confound the relationships. To fill this void in the literature, we examined the effects of heavy alcohol use on three health promotion activities (routine physical exam, flu shot, regular seatbelt use) using the US 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. Although specification tests indicated that omitted variable bias was not present in the majority of the single-equation probit models, we cautiously interpret our findings as evidence of strong associations rather than causal effects. Among both men and women, heavy alcohol use is negatively and significantly associated with each of our three outcomes. These findings suggest that heavy drinkers may be investing less in health promotion activities relative to abstainers and other drinkers. Policy options to address the associated externalities may be warranted.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

Volume (Year): 71 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 134-142

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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:71:y:2010:i:1:p:134-142
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