In 1993, Sharon Wilsnack and Richard Wilsnack hosted a meeting of researchers interested in research on gender and alcohol, as part of an annual international alcohol epidemiology symposium held that year in Krakow, Poland. At that meeting, 13 alcohol researchers from nine countries organized the International Research Group on Gender and Alcohol (IRGGA). IRGGA workshops, coordinated by Sharon Wilsnack and other UND staff, have been held annually since 1993, and IRGGA membership now includes more than 100 researchers from 40 countries.
During its early years, IRGGA members conducted and published cross-national comparative analyses of women’s and men’s drinking, based on existing survey data sets. More recently IRGGA members have designed a major international study that uses a common questionnaire to gather new data on women’s and men’s drinking in numerous countries. This study – named GENACIS (Gender, Alcohol, and Culture: An International Study) – now includes surveys in more than 30 countries.
Funding has been obtained from the European Union (for GENACIS surveys in EU member states), the World Health Organization (for surveys in developing countries), and a NIAAA/NIH grant to Sharon Wilsnack at the University of North Dakota to support costs of coordinating the international study plus some survey costs for countries not eligible for EU or WHO support.
It is anticipated that the GENACIS project will continue for at least five years, producing unique analyses of interactions between gender and culture as these influence drinking behavior and drinking-related problems. It is also anticipated that findings will suggest more culture- and gender-sensitive approaches to measurement of alcohol use and alcohol problems, as well as to treatment, prevention, and international alcohol policy.
IRGGA plans to develop a permanent archive of GENACIS data sets that can be used for future analyses of global time trends in women’s and men’s drinking behavior and drinking-related problems.