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Personal, family and social functioning among older couples concordant and discordant for high-risk alcohol consumption

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This study compares the personal, family and social functioning of older husbands and wives concordant or discordant for high-risk alcohol consumption and identifies predictors of changes in concordance and high-risk consumption. Design, Participants, Measurements 

Three groups of couples were identified at baseline and followed 10 years later: (i) concordant couples in which husbands and wives engaged in low-risk alcohol consumption (n = 54); (ii) concordant couples in which husbands and wives engaged in high-risk alcohol consumption (n = 38); and (iii) discordant couples in which one partner engaged in high-risk alcohol consumption and the other partner did not (n = 75). At each follow-up, husbands and wives completed an inventory that assessed their personal, family and social functioning. Findings 

Compared to the low-risk concordant group, husbands and wives in the high-risk concordant group were more likely to rely on tension-reduction coping, reported more friend approval of drinking, and were less involved in religious activities; however, they did not differ in the quality of the spousal relationship. The frequency of alcohol consumption declined among husbands in discordant couples, but not among husbands in concordant couples. Predictors of high-risk drinking included tension-reduction coping, friend approval of drinking and, for husbands, their wives' level of drinking. Conclusions 

High-risk and discordant alcohol consumption do not seem to be linked to decrements in family functioning among older couples in long-term stable marriages. The predictors of heavy alcohol consumption among older husbands and wives identify points of intervention that may help to reduce their high-risk drinking.

Keywords: Alcohol consumption; husband-wife concordance; older couples

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2011


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