Background: Unhealthy alcohol use is a key concern for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (‘Indigenous Australian’) communities. Due to systematic disadvantage and inter-generational trauma, Indigenous Australians may be less likely to have satisfied basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness). When people are need-thwarted, they may engage in compensatory behaviours to feel better in the short-term. We explore the relationship between perceived basic psychological needs satisfaction and alcohol consumption use among Indigenous Australians. Better understanding the functions that alcohol may play for some Indigenous Australian drinkers may aid communities, clinicians, and policy makers in improving programs for reducing drinking-related harms. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional survey of Indigenous Australians (aged 16 years or older) living in two South Australian communities. Participants were eligible if they had consumed any alcohol in the past 12 months. Spearman correlations and linear regressions were used to determine if feeling more autonomous, competent, and related to others (need satisfied) while drinking, was linked to alcohol consumption and dependence. Results: Controlling for participant demographics, reporting feeling need satisfied while drinking was linked to drinking more alcohol per day, reporting more frequent symptoms of alcohol dependence, spending more money on alcohol, and scoring higher on the AUDIT-C. Conclusions: Unhealthy drinking may partly stem from attempts to satisfy basic psychological needs. Programs which support Indigenous Australians to meet basic psychological needs could reduce attempts to meet psychological needs through alcohol consumption.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) through a Project Grant (#1087192), the Centre of Research Excellence in Indigenous Health and Alcohol (#1117198) and a Practitioner Fellowship for K Conigrave (#1117582). We would like to acknowledge the communities who supported this project. We would also like to thank Michelle Fitts, David Warrior, Shane Bond, Dudley Ah Chee, Keith Weetra, Teagan Weatherall, Mustafa Al Ansari, Taleah Reynolds, Catherine Zheng, Monika Dzidowska, and Summer Loggins for their contributions.
This work was supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) as part of a Project Grant ID #1087192, a Centre of Research Excellence ID #1117198, and a Practitioner Fellowship for K Conigrave ID #1117582. Funders had no role in any aspect of the study from design through to write up.
© 2021, The Author(s).
- Alcohol consumption
- Basic psychological needs
- Grog Survey App
- Indigenous Australians
- Self-determination theory