Social capital and alcohol risks among older adults (50 years and over): analysis from the Drink Wise Age Well Survey

Laura Adnum*, Lawrie Elliott, Robert Raeside, Sarah Wadd, Iolo Madoc-Jones, Michael Donnelly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Although there has been significant research on the relationship between alcohol consumption and demographic and psychological influences, this does not consider the effect of social influence among older drinkers and if these effects differ between men and women. One aspect of social influence is social capital. The aim of this paper is to examine whether relational and cognitive social capital are associated with higher or lower risk of alcohol use among adults aged 50 years or older and to assess the extent to which this relationship differs between men and women. To investigate this, data were collected from a cross-sectional questionnaire survey of adults over the age of 50 in the United Kingdom who were recruited from general practitioners. The sample consisted of 9,984 individuals whose mean age was 63.87 years. From these data, we developed proxy measures of social capital and associate these with the respondent's level of alcohol consumption as measured on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT-10) scale. In the sample, just over 20 per cent reported an increasing risk or dependency on alcohol. Using two expressions of social capital - relational (social relationships) and cognitive (knowledge acquisition and understanding) - we found that greater levels of both are associated with a reduced risk of higher drinking risk. Being female had no significant effect when combined with relational capital but did have a significant effect when combined with cognitive capital. It is argued that interventions to enhance social relations among older people and education to help understand alcohol risks would be helpful to protect older people from the damaging effects of excessive alcohol consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-680
Number of pages20
JournalAgeing and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2022


  • alcohol
  • logistic regression
  • older adults
  • polychoric correlation
  • public health
  • social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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