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Open Access Research article

Alcohol consumption in Estonia and Finland: Finbalt survey 1994-2006

Kersti Pärna12*, Kaja Rahu23, Satu Helakorpi4 and Mare Tekkel23

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, University of Tartu, Estonia

2 Estonian Centre of Behavioural and Health Sciences, Tallinn/Tartu, Estonia

3 Institute for Health Development, Tallinn, Estonia

4 National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:261  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-261

Published: 19 May 2010

Abstract

Background

Alcohol consumption has been regarded as an important contributor to the high premature mortality rates. The objective of this paper was to provide an overview and comparison of alcohol consumption and its socio-demographic determinants among adults in Estonia and Finland.

Methods

The study was based on a 25-64-year-old subsample of nationally representative postal cross-sectional surveys conducted in Estonia (n = 10,340) and Finland (n = 19,672) during 1994-2006. Abstinence, frequency, and the amount of alcohol consumed were examined. Logistic regression models were used to test the socio-demographic differences in alcohol consumption at least once a week. The effect of socio-demographic factors on pure alcohol consumed per week was calculated using linear regression.

Results

The proportion of abstainers was 1.5 times higher among women than men in both countries. Throughout the study period, the amount of alcohol consumed per week increased for both genders in Estonia and for women in Finland, but was stable for men in Finland. In the final study year, medium risk amount of alcohol consumed per week was nearly 1.5 times higher among men in Estonia than in Finland, but about half that among women in Estonia than in Finland. Compared to ethnic majority in Estonia, alcohol consumption at least once a week was lower among men, but amount of pure alcohol drunk per week was higher among women of ethnic minority. In Finland, alcohol consumption at least once a week was more prevalent among women of ethnic minority, but the amount of pure alcohol drunk per week was lower for both gender groups of ethnic minority. Compared to married/cohabiting respondents, alcohol consumption at least once a week was less pronounced among single respondents in Finland, divorced or separated women in both countries, and widowed respondents in Estonia. Greater amount of alcohol consumed per week was more prevalent among single and divorced or separated respondents in Finland, but only among divorced or separated men in Estonia. Frequency of alcohol consumption was lower among less educated than higher educated respondents in Finland, but not in Estonia. The amount of consumed alcohol per week was higher among less educated men in Estonia, but lower among women with basic education in Finland.

Conclusions

Alcohol consumption has increased in Estonia and Finland. National alcohol policies should reflect findings of alcohol epidemiology in order to introduce measures that will reduce alcohol related harm in the population effectively.