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Understanding drinking among midlife men in the United Kingdom: A systematic review of qualitative studies

Parke, H, Michalska, M, Russell, A, Moss, AC, Holdsworth, C, Ling, Jonathan and Larsen, J (2018) Understanding drinking among midlife men in the United Kingdom: A systematic review of qualitative studies. Addictive Behaviors Reports, 8. pp. 85-94. ISSN 2352-8532

Item Type: Article


This study reviews qualitative research into the sociocultural meanings and subjective experiences that midlife men in the United Kingdom (UK) associate with their drinking. In the UK, average weekly alcohol consumption is highest among midlife men, and they are disproportionately affected by alcohol harm. There is increasing recognition that public health messages to support behaviour change must be based on an in-depth understanding of drinking motivations and experiences.

Study design and methods
Systematic literature review of studies exploring motivations for and experiences of drinking among UK men aged 45–60 using qualitative methodology. Medline, PsycINFO and the Social Science Citation Index were used, along with manual searches of key journals, Google searches and a call for evidence. The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme tool was used to quality-assess papers. Thematic synthesis was used to combine and analyse the data.

From 5172 titles and abstracts (1995–2018), 11 publications were included, representing 6 unique studies. Five themes were identified: ‘Drinking Motivations’; ‘Drinking Justifications’; ‘Drinking Strategies and Control’; ‘Social Norms and Identity’ and ‘Harm’. Motivations for drinking among midlife men were associated with relaxation, socialising and maintenance of male friendships. They justified drinking as a choice and emphasised their ability to meet responsibilities, which they contrasted with ‘problem drinkers’. Social norms governed drinking behaviours as an expression of masculinity.

This review highlights the significance of the meanings and social importance of alcohol consumption among midlife men. Interventions using information and guidance should consider these when aiming to effectively influence the way this group drinks.

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Depositing User: Jonathan Ling


Item ID: 10040
Identification Number:
ISSN: 2352-8532
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Jonathan Ling: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2018 15:29
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2023 10:09


Author: Jonathan Ling ORCID iD
Author: H Parke
Author: M Michalska
Author: A Russell
Author: AC Moss
Author: C Holdsworth
Author: J Larsen

University Divisions

Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing


Social Sciences > Health and Social Care
Sciences > Health Sciences

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