Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Work Stress & Alcohol
A new study has shown some positive effects of moderate drinking in buffering the impact of work strains on mental health. The relationship between alcohol intake, work stress and physiological distress in the workplace is a complex one. Alcohol could possibly exacerbate work strains and contribute further to psychological distress or it may help buffer the effects of work strain. Moderate alcohol consumption in response to the tension generated under work strains could lessen the impact of work strains on psychological distress.

High-risk drinkers (more than 10 drinks for men or 15 for women in last 7 days) and abstainers were more likely than others to experience psychological distress, with women more likely than men to report such distress. Compared with low-risk drinkers (less than 10/15 drinks a wk), abstainers were 25% more likely to report psychological distress, and high-risk drinkers 75% more likely.

Greater psychological benefits associated with moderate drinking have been shown by other studies and the results of this study are in line with the findings. The researchers found moderating effect of alcohol intake on ’task-internal’ strains and psychological distress, particularly on the link with skills utilisation and exposure to physical risks.

The findings suggest that moderate drinking is not directly linked with psychological distress and does not intensify the effect of work strain factors, giving some support to the positive effect of moderate alcohol consumption on stress reduction and mental health.

Source. The moderating effect of alcohol intake on the relationship between work strains and psychological distress, Journal of Studies on Alcohol (2003), 64, 419-427. Marchand, A., Demers, A., Durand, P., & Simard, M., Health and Prevention Social Research Group, University of Montreal Quebec, Canada.

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