Category Archives: Alcoholism

Dec 31 2013

YOUR Favorite Blog Posts of 2013 – Part Two

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Human Capital Blog published nearly 400 posts in 2013. Yesterday, we shared five of the ten most-read posts published on this Blog this year. Today, as we prepare to usher in a new year, we report on those that generated the most visits.

Alcohol and Life Expectancy: Unraveling the Mystery of Why Nondrinkers Have Higher Risk of Premature Death  For years, experts have reported that people who drink in moderation live longer than those who do not consume alcohol at all. Patrick M. Krueger, PhD, an alumnus of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, blogged about his study examining the reasons. One answer, Krueger found, is that nondrinkers include adults who quit drinking because they had problems with alcohol—and that group has a relatively high rate of premature death. His post attracted the biggest audience on this Blog in 2013 with more than 23,000 visits.

It’s a Lil’ Colored Girl to See You  This deeply personal post by RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar alumna Angela Amar, PhD, RN, FAAN, recounts an experience that occurred when she was a young nurse, and a patient’s wife referred to her in that way. Amar, a professor, also notes that students sometimes comment that she is intelligent—a comment her majority faculty member colleagues tell her they do not hear. Amar’s blog is a salute to the benefits of diversity. She concludes: “Diversity is not a one-way glass that only directs light in one direction. ... Diversity benefits us individually and collectively and allows the light to shine everywhere.” Like Krueger’s blog, it generated a lively conversation among readers.

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Aug 23 2013

Alcohol and Life Expectancy: Unraveling the Mystery of Why Nondrinkers Have Higher Risk of Premature Death

Patrick M. Krueger, PhD, is an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program. He is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado-Denver in the departments of sociology and health and behavioral sciences, and research faculty at the University of Colorado-Boulder Population Program. He recently co-authored a study, published in Population Research and Policy Review, that examines the characteristics and mortality risks of nondrinker subgroups to explain why people who do not drink alcohol are at greater risk for death than light to moderate drinkers.


Prior research has documented that both heavy drinkers and nondrinkers have higher risks of premature death than their peers who drink in moderation. Heavy drinkers have elevated rates of death from accidents, suicides, homicides, liver disease, and some cancers. But the reason for the elevated rates of death among nondrinkers is less well understood. Some researchers* have advocated for national guidelines that discourage nondrinking and encourage moderate alcohol consumption. But physicians are reticent to suggest that their nondrinking patients drink more, because alcohol is a nonessential part of a person’s diet, is disallowed by many religions, and can have adverse consequences for health if consumed to excess.

I have worked with collaborators at the University of Colorado to understand the factors that explain the elevated risk of premature death among nondrinkers relative to their peers who drink in moderation. In particular, we use the stated reasons that people report for nondrinking to better understand why they have higher rates of premature death than their peers who drink in moderation.

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Jul 25 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Mortality rates for non-drinkers, screening newborns for rare diseases, air conditioners’ impact on climate, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni and grantees. Some recent examples:

Previous research has shown that non-drinkers have a slightly higher mortality risk than light drinkers, and a study co-authored by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumnus Patrick Krueger, PhD, is the first to examine the characteristics and mortality risks of non-drinker subgroups to explain the phenomenon. The study confirms that some, but not all, subgroups of non-drinkers have a higher mortality rate than light drinkers, and uncovers some of the reasons. Among the outlets to report on the findings: Health Canal, the Aspen Business Journal, Science Daily and the Denver Journal.

The research of Health & Society Scholars alumnus Andrew Papachristos, PhD, is informing a new technique used by the Austin Police District in Chicago to quell gang violence, the Chicago Tribune reports. Papachristos found that much of the violence on the West Side of Chicago involves a relatively small number of victims and offenders. The Austin District has put those people on a “heat list” and will begin visiting them individually to issue warnings to stop the violence.

States that have expanded family planning services under Medicaid have seen an increase in women receiving potentially life-saving Pap tests and breast exams, according to a study led by Health & Society Scholar Laura Wherry, PhD. Health Canal and Medical XPress are among the outlets to report on the findings.

Rather than becoming depressed or anxious, people who find out they have a gene that predisposes them to Alzheimer’s disease often take steps to reduce their risk, including exercise, healthier diets, and vitamins and medications, according to a study led by RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research Jason Karlawish, MD. GenomeWeb reports on the findings.

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