Prevalence and predictors of problematic alcohol use, risky sexual practices and other negative consequences associated with alcohol use among safety and security employees in the Western Cape, South Africa
CITATION: Burnhams, N. H., Parry, C., Laubscher, R. & London, L. 2014. Prevalence and predictors of problematic alcohol use, risky sexual practices and other negative consequences associated with alcohol use among safety and security employees in the Western Cape, South Africa. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 9:14, doi:10.1186/1747-597X-9-14.
The original publication is available at http://substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com
Introduction: Harmful alcohol use can compromise worker health and productivity. Persons employed in safetysensitive occupations are particularly vulnerable to hazardous alcohol use and its associated risks. This study describes the patterns of harmful alcohol use, related HIV risks and risk factors for the harmful use of alcohol among a sample of employees in South Africa working in the safety and security sector. Methods: A cross-sectional study that formed the baseline for a clustered randomized control trial was undertaken in 2011. A random sample of 325 employees employed within a safety and security sector of a local municipality in the Western Cape Province of South Africa participated in the study. Data were collected by means of an 18-page self-administered structured questionnaire and analyzed using SAS/STAT software version 9.2. For all significance testing, the F-statistic and p-values are reported. Results: Three hundred and twenty-five employees were surveyed. Findings suggest that more than half (76.1%) of the 78.9% of participants who consumed alcohol engaged in binge drinking, with close to a quarter reporting a CAGE score greater than the cut-off of 2, indicating potentially hazardous drinking patterns. The study further found that employees who use alcohol are more likely to engage in risky sexual practices when under the influence. A favorable drinking climate (p < 0.001) and poor levels of group cohesion (p = 0.009) were significantly correlated to binge drinking. Conclusion: This study identifies alcohol-related behaviors and associated risks in the context of safety-sensitive occupations at the workplace. It suggests that persons employed within such positions are at high risk for developing alcohol-related disorders and for contracting HIV. This study highlights the need for testing a comprehensive package of services designed to prevent hazardous alcohol use among safety and security employees.