Fit-for-work: mental health and alcohol indicators in male-dominated industries

Publication Name

Advances in Dual Diagnosis


Purpose: Risky alcohol use can reduce productivity at work and impact employees’ mental health and wellbeing. Several risk factors converge in male-dominated industries, which can increase risky drinking and deteriorate mental health. This paper aims to explore the prevalence of risky drinking and psychological distress in a male-dominated industry compared with that in the general population. Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected from four manufacturing sites in Australia. In total, 450 workers were invited to participate in a survey that measured drinking behaviours using AUDIT-C and psychological distress using the K10, along with demographics including age, gender, job role and ethnicity. The observed outcome measures were compared with general population data available through publicly available data sets. Findings: Surveys were returned by 341 employees, of which 319 completed AUDIT-C. AUDIT-C and K10 scores were significantly correlated (R = 0.31, p < 0.0001). Hazardous drinking was more prevalent among workers than in Australian general population (66.1% vs 23.6%). Binge drinking was greater among workers than in the general population (25.4% vs 26.5%). The difference was higher among female workers than among male workers (35.1% vs 10.8%). Originality/value: The findings of this study show a significantly greater risk of alcohol-related harm among workers in male-dominated industries compared with that in the general population. This risk is more pronounced among women, who also experienced greater rates of moderate and high psychological distress compared with those experienced by the general population. A fitness-for-work approach is proposed to minimise alcohol-related harm among workers in male-dominated industries. Moreover, male-dominated industries are proposed to consider the interconnectivity of other workplace health and safety factors.

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