Open Access Research article

Selected sociodemographic factors and related differences in patterns of alcohol use among university students in Slovakia

Rene Sebena1, Olga Orosova23, Rafael T Mikolajczyk46* and Jitse P van Dijk35

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, PJ Safarik University in Kosice, Kosice, Slovak Republic

2 Department of Educational Psychology and Health Psychology, Faculty of Arts, PJ Safarik University in Kosice, Kosice, Slovak Republic

3 Kosice Institute for Society and Health, PJ Safarik University, Kosice, Slovak Republic

4 Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Bremen Institute for Prevention Research and Social Medicine, Bremen, Germany

5 Department of Social Medicine, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

6 Bremen Institute for Prevention Research and Social Medicine, Achterstr. 30, D-28359 Bremen, Germany

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:849  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-849

Published: 9 November 2011

Abstract

Background

Alcohol use and misuse and their relation to sociodemograhic factors are well studied among university students in Western European countries and the USA, but less is known about students in Eastern Europe. The historical past as communistic countries might have affected the social life among these populations, which is again one of the main factors determining the alcohol consumption among university students. The aim of our study was to assess the association of selected sociodemographic factors with different patterns of alcohol use among university students in Slovakia.

Methods

A sample of 813 young adults (mean age 21.1 years, 63.8% females; response rate of 71%) from four universities in Kosice answered questions about their sociodemographic background and about alcohol use. To obtain a detailed picture of different aspects, alcohol use was measured by four variables: frequency of alcohol use, heavy episodic drinking, frequency of drunkenness and problem drinking. Four separate logistic regression models were used to assess the association between sociodemographic and alcohol-related variables. To assess the potentially different effects in both genders, all two-way interactions with gender were tested.

Results

While 41% of the students drank alcohol once a week or more often, 77% reported heavy episodic drinking and 49% had been drunk more than once in the last month. Problem drinking existed in 23.3% of the sample. Gender was consistently associated with all four alcohol-related variables, with males being at higher risk. A higher study year was associated only with lower levels of heavy episodic drinking, but displayed no association with the other studied variables. Living with parents during the semester was consistently associated with less frequent heavy episodic drinking, drunkenness episodes, and problem drinking while having an intimate relationship was associated with less problem drinking only.

Conclusions

Our findings for the university students from Slovakia are in line with previous studies in Western Europe. Additionally, it appears that frequent alcohol use, excessive alcohol use (heavy episodic drinking and drunkenness) and problem drinking among university students represent a continuum and are influenced by the same sociodemographic factors.