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Date: 2003
Abstract: Background: Jewish culturally supported beliefs may discourage drinking and drunkenness as ways of socialising and coping with stress. Thus Jewish men under stress may be relatively more likely to become depressed, and less likely to use and abuse alcohol. This study is the first qualitative comparison of Jews and Protestants, men and women. It examines whether alcohol-related beliefs are consistent with the alcohol-depression hypothesis, i.e. that positive beliefs about alcohol use and effects are associated with high alcohol use and low depression. Material and discussion: A thematic (interpretive phenomenological) analysis on open-ended question responses, from 70 Jews and 91 Protestants, and on semi-structured interviews with five Jews and four Protestants, identified three salient themes: the importance of retaining self-control; the pleasures of losing inhibitions; and the relations of alcohol-related behaviour to identity. Compared to Protestants, Jews described alcohol-related behaviour as threatening to self-control, loss of inhibition as unenjoyable and dangerous and distinguished between the kinds of drinking behaviours appropriate for Jews and others. Sub-themes for Protestant men were denial that drinking threatens self-control, and appropriateness of going to the pub. Conclusions: The themes identified are not measurable using published research instruments. Alcohol-related behaviour may be a feature of Jewish identity. The beliefs identified are consistent with the alcohol-depression hypothesis.
Date: 2004