Longitudinal patterns of military spousal alcohol consumption: Findings from the Millennium Cohort Family Study
Sparks, A. C., Williams, C. S., Pflieger, J. C., Jacobson, I., Corry, N. H., Radakrishnan, S., & Stander, V. A. (2022). Longitudinal patterns of military spousal alcohol consumption: Findings from the Millennium Cohort Family Study. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 84(4), 546-555. https://doi.org/10.15288.jsad.2022.83.546
Abstract Created by REACH:
This longitudinal study used a socioecological model to identify contextual factors related to military spouses’ risky drinking behaviors (i.e., heavy and binge drinking). 5,475 military spouses self-reported their alcohol consumption at baseline and at a 3-year follow-up assessment. They also reported on individual factors (e.g., cigarette use, depressive symptoms, posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] symptoms), interpersonal factors (e.g., satisfaction with family functioning), and organizational factors (e.g., military support) at either the baseline or follow-up. Spouses’ Service members self-reported their combat exposure at the follow-up. Overall, individual, interpersonal, and organizational factors affected spouses’ risky drinking behaviors over 3 years.
Branch of Service:
Spouse of service member or veteran
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)
Sparks, Alicia C., Williams, Christianna S., Pflieger, Jacqueline C., Jacobson, Isabel, Corry, Nida H., Radakrishnan, Sharmini, Stander, Valerie A.
OBJECTIVE: Alcohol use in the military is prevalent and has short- and long-term health, safety, and career consequences. Although several studies have examined service members' alcohol consumption, few have focused on alcohol use among military spouses. This study assessed factors at individual, interpersonal, and organizational levels to determine associations with risky alcohol use among military spouses. METHOD: Data from baseline and first follow-up of the Millennium Cohort Family Study were used (N = 5,475; 4,923 female) to model spousal self-reported risky drinking (heavy and/or binge drinking) at follow-up. Predictors included demographic characteristics, spousal adverse childhood experiences and mental health, smoking status, marital status, family satisfaction, social support, military stress, and service member military characteristics. Logistic regression models assessed the adjusted associations between spouse and service member characteristics and spousal risky drinking at follow-up. RESULTS: Among spouses in this sample, 19% were risky drinkers at follow-up. Baseline alcohol use status was associated with risky drinking at follow-up. Most spouses (64.2%) did not change their drinking behavior between baseline and follow-up; those who did change were nearly evenly split between an increasing (17.0%) versus decreasing (18.7%) pattern. Risk factors included male gender, cigarette smoking, elevated symptoms of post-traumatic stress, marital separation, and service member deployment with combat. CONCLUSIONS: Although most military spouses were not engaging in risky drinking, one in five were, with about half of these having moved into the risky drinking category over time. Risky alcohol use among spouses has ramifications for themselves, the service member, and the family unit.
Division of Health and Environment, Abt Associates, ACS
Division of Health and Environment, Abt Associates, SR
Division of Health and Environment, Abt Associates, CSW
Division of Health and Environment, Abt Associates, NHC
Deployment Health Research Department, Naval Health Research Center, JCP
Deployment Health Research Department, Naval Health Research Center, IJ
Deployment Health Research Department, Naval Health Research Center, VAS
alcohol consumption, risky drinking
REACH Publication Type:
Report No. 21-19 was supported by the Military Operational Medicine Research Program, Defense Health Agency, under work unit no. N1240, supported by the Naval Health Research Center.