A qualitative analysis investigating drinking practices and meanings among a sample of Australian working mothers

Maree Patsouras, Gabriel Caluzzi, Cassandra J.C. Wright, Emmanuel Kuntsche, Sandra Kuntsche

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Background: Despite recent increases in alcohol use among Western mid-life women, less is known about working mothers and how their competing social roles and responsibilities might influence their alcohol use. Our study unpacks how the experience of being a working mother creates particular drinking practices and meanings, and how these are influenced by cultural and societal factors. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted among 22 Australian women aged 36–51 years old. Women were mothers of dependent children who were employed more than 15 h per week, with most being professional workers who identified as Anglo-Australian. We asked participants about their daily lives, their employment, their families, and their alcohol use. Underpinned by critical realism, reflexive thematic analysis was utilized as the data analysis strategy. Results: Women felt they had to be available to both their employers and their children at the same time. For some, this led to internalized feelings of guilt and fatigue, increasing women’s desire to drink, and limiting their capacity to be mindful of the amount of alcohol they were consuming. Women also described feeling overloaded and under-supported, where alcohol was viewed as being relaxing and rewarding, as well as a way to escape, cope, and recover from their day-to-day stressors. Furthermore, through a combination of targeted marketing and broader social normalisation, women felt alcohol was presented as a solution to stress and problems among working mothers. Conclusions: Addressing commercial and social determinants of health and acknowledging these in potential health promotion strategies is necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Early online dateFeb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 2024

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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