Alcohol use among Australian parents during the COVID-19 pandemic – April-2020 to May 2021
Aims: This study examined the trajectory of alcohol use frequency among parents from April-2020 to May-2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic in the state of Victoria, Australia (who experienced one of the longest lockdowns in the world), compared to parents from the other states of Australia (who experienced relatively fewer restrictions). We further examined the extent to which baseline demographic factors were associated with changes in alcohol use trajectories among parents. Method: Data were from the COVID-19 Pandemic Adjustment Survey (2,261 parents of children 0–18 years). Alcohol use frequency was assessed over 13 waves. Baseline demographic predictors included parent gender, age, speaking a language other than English, number of children, partnership status, education, employment, and income. Results: Overall, alcohol trajectories declined over time. Victorian parents, in comparison to parents from other states, reported a smaller reduction in alcohol use frequency across 2020, with a more notable decline during 2021. Female/other gender, speaking a language other than English at home, unemployment, and lower income (Victoria only) were associated with alcohol trajectories of less frequent use, and older age was associated with a trajectory of more frequent use. Conclusions: Results suggest subtle difference in alcohol trajectories reflecting COVID-19 restrictions, when comparing Victoria and other states in Australia. Socioeconomically advantaged groups were most at risk for elevated trajectories of alcohol use frequency. Population level support may beneficial to reduce drinking behaviours.