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The Relationship of Drinking and Hangovers to Workplace Problems: An Empirical Study

Genevieve M. Ames, Joel W. Grube, Roland S. Moore

Objective: This article reports on the relationship between drinking patterns and workplace problems in a manufacturing facility operated by a Fortune 500 industry. Method: The data come from a survey of 832 hourly employees (88% male) and from ethnographic research in the plant. This study is distinctive because it examined a large random sample of workers, rather than an impaired subpopulation. Moreover, the study is among the few that has asked employees how much they drank prior to and during working hours and how frequently they had been hungover at work. Respondents were also asked about their overall alcohol consumption and their experience of various problems in the workplace. Results: Bivariate analyses indicated that overall drinking, heavy drinking outside of work, drinking at or just before work and coming to work hungover were related to the overall number of work problems experienced by respondents, and to specific problems such as conflicts with supervisors and falling asleep on the job. Multivariate analyses revealed that workplace drinking and coming to work hungover predicted work-related problems even when usual drinking patterns, heavy drinking and significant job characteristics and background variables were controlled. Overall drinking and heavy drinking outside the workplace did not predict workplace problems in the multivariate analyses. The analyses show that workplace problems were also related to age, gender, ethnicity, work shift and departments. Survey results are explicated with findings from a plant ethnography. Conclusions: Although the relationships are modest, they support the hypothesis that work-related drinking and hangovers at work are related to problems within the workplace and may lead to lowered productivity and morale. (J. Stud. Alcohol 58: 37-47, 1997)