Keele research hits the national news

Posted on 13 January 2015
Holdsworth_Clare Martin Fisher Marina A recent ESRC-funded research project on alcohol Consumption, life course transitions and health in later life carried out by Professor Clare ‌Holdsworth (School of Physical and Geographical Sciences), Dr Martin Frisher (School of Pharmacy) and Marina Mendonça, featured on the front page of The Times on Christmas Eve. The research was also reported in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail (Including Scottish and Irish Editions), Mail Online, The Sunday Times, Scottish and Irish editions of The Times and the Chicago Chronicle.‌
The project revealed new findings about the relationship between alcohol consumption, life course events associated with partnership status and health, and individual resources. The analysis used the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to study the drinking behaviours of approximately 4500 older adults over a 10 year period.
The findings confirmed that older men drank more and drank more often than women. For both men and women, those in the highest income group and with highest level of education drank more and drank more frequently. Of particular interest was the relationship between partnership status and drinking. Men who were not in a partnership drank more compared to men with a partner at the start of the study, though there was no difference in the frequency of men's drinking by partnership status. For women partnership did not influence drinking behaviours at the start, though over the ten year period loss of a partner was associated with a faster decline in weekly alcohol consumption and with drinking less often.
The analysis also considered the relationship between drinking and health and found that over time older people with poor health and deteriorating health reported a steeper decline in the quantity and frequency of alcohol consumed. This finding supports the assumption that older people moderate their drinking in response to health events.