Vol 71, No 4 (2020)
Review article
Published online: 2020-12-30

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Prevalence of alcohol consumption among seafarers and fishermen

Elisabeth Stoll1, Klaus Püschel2, Volker Harth1, Marcus Oldenburg1
Pubmed: 33394491
IMH 2020;71(4):265-274.


Background: Over the decades, several published studies showing the relevance of alcohol use among seafarers/fishermen have highlighted the dangers of alcohol consumption during working time. The present study aims to provide an up-to-date overview of the prevalence of alcohol consumption among seafarers/fishermen. It also points out their consumption behaviour, depending on socio-demographic and job-related factors.

Materials and methods: To detect relevant studies for this systematic review, the electronic database PubMed was searched. All identified studies published between January 2014 and September 2019 were included using the subsequent terms: (alcohol OR ethanol) AND (seafarer OR fishermen OR ship crew OR merchant ship).

Results: According to the applied search string, 18 studies were identified. Thirteen of them were selected for this review. The results of the studies about alcohol consumption among seafarers and fishermen showed a wide range of prevalence, from 11.5% to 89.5% (median 53.0%). Concerning seafarers no stratified data were available for further analyses. Among fishermen alcohol consumption has decreased over the period examined (56.9% [2010–2014] vs. 42.3% [2015–2018]). The evaluation of socio-demographic factors showed alcohol consumption was less prevalent in fishermen > 60 years (15.0%). Furthermore, a higher prevalence of alcohol intake was found in those with a lower education (63.9%). In respect of job-related data, 61.0% of the alcohol consuming fishermen reported they had been involved in an accident due to alcohol consumption.

Conclusions: The consumption of alcohol among fishermen has declined over time. Compared with the landbased European population, seafarers and fishermen show a lower prevalence of alcohol use, at least during their stay on board. Due to the limited data available — especially concerning seafarers — further studies on the prevalence of alcohol consumption among shipboard crews are recommended. In particular, these should provide more data on alcohol consumption related to socio-demographic and job-related factors.

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