Moderate Drinking Classlfications as Social Constructions: The Utility of a Salutogenic Perspecitve in Assessing Drinking Behavior

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Subhash Sonnad

Second Advisor

Dr. David Hartmann

Third Advisor

Dr. Victoria Ross

Fourth Advisor

Dr. C. Dennis Simpson


This research study was a secondary analysis o f the 1994 National Population Health Survey (NPHS) of Canada. Men and women were analyzed separately to determine differences among myriad variables with, regard to average daily consumption of alcohol. Sociodemographic, physical health, mental health, cognitive/psychosocial, social support, and stress variables were tested. Of particular interest were cognitive/psychosocial variables, specifically sense o f coherence, to determine if these measures differed significantly across groups based on alcohol consumption patterns. Three research problems were addressed: (1) the paucity o f research studies on alcohol consumption from a genuine salutogenic perspective; (2) the consistent combination of light and moderate drinkers in many studies on alcohol consumption; and (3) it is argued here that, moderate drinking classifications currently cited by the USDA/USDHHS, are social constructions due to the lack of a universal definition of moderate drinking, and more importantly, the neglect of individual characteristics when deriving such definitions. In general, the overall findings showed both male and females moderate drinkers demonstrated healthier, or better, measures on a wide variety of variables when, compared to abstainers or heavy drinkers, and had similar (no different) measures when compared to light or intermediate drinkers. The results supported the hypotheses that moderate drinkers would manifest comparable healthy characteristics to abstainers, light drinkers, and intermediate drinkers, and would demonstrate healthier characteristics compared to heavy drinkers, the importance of this research is its attempt to show that moderate drinking, when approached from a salutogenic perspective, can assist in future research that seeks to determine specific variables that predict individuals’ ability to use alcohol moderately, and consistently, without progressing to problem drinking, addiction, or alcoholism.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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