IMPACT OF ALCOHOL USE ON HEALTH AND FAMILY LIFE

Objective
To determine the patterns and prevalence of problem drinking amongest male factory workers and its impact on the health of their families.

Background
Although alcohol abuse is acknowledged as a serious public health problem in Goa , there is little systematic information on the level of abuse and its impact on families.

The aim of this project is to describe the patterns and prevalence of problem drinking amongst male factory workers in Goa and to study its impact on their physical and mental health and economic productivity, and its impact on their spouses and family economics. The project is based in four large industries in Goa covering mining, transport and manufacturing.

In the first stage, approximately 1000 workers have been randomly selected for brief screening interviews to identify drinking patterns. This stage is now completed and findings show that about 1/4 of workers are hazardous drinkers. These workers have significantly higher rates of head injuries, health and economic problems.

The second stage will involve detailed interviews with workers (and spouses) selected from the 1000 who are either non-drinkers, “safe” drinkers or problem drinkers . The interviews will cover income distribution in the household, details on health, domestic violence and patterns of drinking behaviour and absenteeism.

This project has provided the first systematic data on the prevalence and impact of alcohol abuse in Goa. It will ultimately lead to a comprehensive education and counselling program in factories to help those with drinking problems and reduce the overall prevalence of problem drinking. This project will also help define the role of problem drinking as an issue in a number of other Sangath programs such as the Nirmaan project.

It will lead to the development of an educational, advocacy and health promotion campaign on the health and social implications of problem drinking in the region. Another outcome is the initiation of a new, multi-centre, project to examine drinking patters focusing on different types of alcohol.