Alcohol's Harm to Others' Well-Being and Health: a Comparison Between Chile and Australia

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Aims: To assess the degree to which relationships with heavy drinkers affect health and well-being of the Chilean population, and how this compares with previously published analyses of an Australian sample in order to establish intercultural differences in the effects of others' heavy drinking.

Method: Data are from a face-to-face survey of 1500 Chileans. Respondents were asked to identify people in their lives who were heavy drinkers. Information on respondents' well-being and health was collected using the Personal Well-Being Index and the EuroQol Group 5-Dimension Self-Report Questionnaire score (EQ-5D) index. Sociodemographic information was also gathered. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed to determine whether heavy drinkers in the respondents' lives (both living in or out of their household) were related to health and well-being. Results were contrasted with those for Australia reported by Livingston et al. [in (2010) Impact of heavy drinkers on others’ health and well-being. J Stud Alcohol Drugs71, 778–785].

Results: Heavy drinkers inside the household negatively affect the health and well-being of Chileans. Heavy drinkers outside the household have a negative but smaller effect on their health and well-being. This contrasts with Australia where most of the harm seems to arise from heavy drinkers identified outside the household.

Conclusions: In both countries, health and well-being are affected by others' heavy drinking. The particular structure of harm may vary across cultures: in Chile, heavy drinkers identified inside the household are the most harmful, whereas in Australia those identified outside the household are the most harmful. This should have an impact on the policy design.

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