Individual and regional factors affecting stress and problem alcohol use: A representative nationwide study of China

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The objective of this study was to examine the association between individual and environmental stressors and problem alcohol use among Chinese university students.


Participants were 11,942 students, who were identified through a multistage survey sampling process that included 50 universities. Individual information, including feelings of stress and perceptions of problem alcohol use, was obtained by self report. Urban and regional variables were retrieved from the National Bureau of Statistics database. Both unadjusted and adjusted methods were considered in the analyses.


Almost one third (32.6%) of the students suffered from some form of severe stress while problem alcohol use prevalence was 7.3%, (95% CI: 4.1–10.4%). The multilevel logistic regression model found that uncertainty stress, gender, father's occupation and monthly expenses were associated with problem alcohol use. Of the contextual factors home region and the university city GDP and unemployment rate were important. When interactions were considered, the relationship between monthly expenses and financial uncertainty and problem drinking was most evident in high level universities. By contrast, the effects of uncertainty stress on problem drinking were most evident in middle and low level universities.


The findings underscore that efforts to control problem alcohol use among students in China should pay greater attention to environmental determinants of stress and particularly to improvements in stress management in university settings.

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