Some Retirees Begin Risky Alcohol Consumption Interview with:
Jaana Halonen, Docent and Senior Researcher

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health What is the background for this study?

Response: Retirement is a significant life transition when substantial changes in daily life are experienced as retirees adapt to life without work. After retirement people have more leisure time and more opportunities for different activities, and less stress. These changes are positive, but retirement can also lead to reduced social control and loss of social contacts and therefore be perceived as a stressful life transition. Both the positive and negative aspects related to changes in leisure time, stress, and social networks around retirement may affect drinking behaviours. However, little is known about how risky alcohol consumption changes around the retirement transition.

Thus, in our study we wanted to examine how and for whom risky drinking changes around the time of retirement. To do that we followed up public sector workers with questionnaires before and after their old-age retirement. What are the main findings?

Response: We identified three different group of people in terms of their risky alcohol consumption around the time of retirement. Largest group consisted of persons who sustained healthy drinking. Second group was characterized by slowly declining risky drinking after retirement. The third group showed temporary increase in risky drinking in retirement transition. Those who temporarily increased risky drinking around retirement were more often men, current smokers and reported depressive symptoms. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Most people drink at low levels and do not change their drinking habits around retirement. Small groups were identified that either became less likely to drink riskily or, conversely, became temporarily more likely to drink riskily around the retirement transition. It would be good to prepare employees for the retirement and changes related to it.

For example, occupational health services and the employers could develop strategies to make the life transition for retiring employees smoother and healthier. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Further research is needed to evaluate how generalizable our findings are, and whether interventions targeted to groups characterised by male gender, smoking and with depressive symptoms can prevent risky drinking and thus benefit aging employees during their retirement transition.

There is also a need for future studies to identify other life changes, such as becoming unemployed, that may drive the temporary increase in risky drinking, as well as studies to determine whether such an increase predicts risky drinking later in life, or is likely to have longer-term consequences on health.

No disclosures Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Jaana I. Halonen, Sari Stenholm, Anna Pulakka, Ichiro Kawachi, Ville Aalto, Jaana Pentti, Tea Lallukka, Marianna Virtanen, Jussi Vahtera, Mika Kivimäki. Trajectories of risky drinking around the time of statutory retirement: a longitudinal latent class analysis. Addiction, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/add.13811

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on April 4, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD