Characteristics of Female Alcohol Consumption: Differences in Drinking Quantities Heavier and Lighter than the Mean
Rebecca E. Johnson
University of Minnesota Duluth
Faculty Research Supervisor:
J. Clark Laundergan, PhD
College of Liberal Arts Undergraduate Research Grant
This study examines the characteristics of alcohol consumption in 296 females who completed the National College Health Assessment at the University of Minnesota Duluth campus in the spring of 2004. The purpose is to identify and describe characteristics of consumption among the female population at UMD.
Categories are defined according to responses to the survey question number 13 “The last time you partied/ socialized, how many alcoholic drinks did you have?” The mean number of alcoholic drinks consumed for alcohol using females was 6.02. Categories are divided according to the mean number of drinks. They are identified as “below the mean” drinkers, those who consumed less than six drinks on their last drinking occasion (N=117) and “at/above the mean” drinkers, who consumed six drinks or more at their last drinking occasion (N=124). The non drinking group (N=55) is analyzed in comparison to the other two categories.
Substantial differences described in this report are:
- At/above mean drinkers do not practice “safe drinking measures” as much as below the mean drinkers do.
- At/above mean drinkers report much higher percentages of negative consequences of their drinking as compared to below the mean drinkers.
- At/above mean drinkers have higher percentages of drug and tobacco use and sexual experiences compared to below mean and non drinkers.
- At/above mean drinkers have the highest percentage of use of pregnancy prevention of the three alcohol use categories.
- Non drinkers have to lowest percentage of use of pregnancy prevention and the highest rate of unplanned pregnancy (Further research is needed to examine this correlation).
- High levels of alcohol use may contribute indirectly to impediments in academics.
- Non drinkers have the highest percentage of “A” level grades and the lowest percentage of “C” level grades, while at/above mean drinkers have the lowest percentage of “A” level grades and the highest percentage of “C” level grades of the three drinking categories.
The intent of this project being descriptive, college drinking among UMD females shows distinct trends in differences among the three drinking categories. Non drinkers have a tendency to have low experience with risk taking activity, and perceive high risk taking experience among their peers. Below the mean drinkers show middle range risk taking activity and high protective strategy, possibly contributing to the below the mean drinkers’ low percentage of negative consequences of drinking compared to at/above mean drinkers. At/above mean drinkers are taking more risks in general than their peers, but protect themselves sexually more than the other two categories. Implications for further research suggest doing a longitudinal study of sexual health and protection, especially pregnancy and prevention of pregnancy, as well as an analysis of negative consequences (physical and other) due to drinking.