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Global Public Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice

Volume 10, Issue 3, 2015

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One for all: Workplace social context and drinking among railway workers in Ukraine
Original Articles

One for all: Workplace social context and drinking among railway workers in Ukraine

Adrianna Murphya*, Bayard Robertsa, Catherine McGowana, Kseniya Kizilovab, Alexiy Kizilovb, Tim Rhodesa & Martin McKeea

pages 391-409


Alcohol consumption is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in countries of the former Soviet Union, but little is known about its social determinants. Recent research has suggested that workplace contexts may play a role. Using qualitative methods, we investigate the relationship between workplace social contexts and drinking in Ukraine. We conducted 24 individual semi-structured interviews and two focus group discussions in Lviv and Kharkiv, Ukraine, with male railway employees aged 18+ years. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis approach. Men in our sample expressed strong feelings of interdependence and trust towards their co-workers which we defined as ‘social solidarity’. Drinking with co-workers was often seen as obligatory and an integral part of co-worker social occasions. Engagement in sport or family obligations seemed to act as a deterrent to drinking among some workers. A strong sense of solidarity exists between railway co-workers in Ukraine, perhaps a remnant of the Soviet era when individuals relied on informal networks for support. Alcohol may be used as a means of expressing this solidarity. Our findings point to factors, namely engagement in sports and family, which may offer opportunities for interventions to reduce alcohol consumption among workers in Ukraine.


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  • Citation information:
  • Received: 7 Mar 2014
  • Accepted: 9 Sep 2014
  • Published online: 27 Nov 2014

Author affiliations

  • a Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  • b Social and Humanitarian Research Institute, V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Kharkiv, Ukraine

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