Objectives: It would be useful to have a quick and cost-effective method to study individual-level determinants of mortality in countries where reliable data are not available. We have modified indirect demographic methods and applied them to a population sample to investigate predictors of mortality in Russia.
Methods: A national sample of the Russian population was interviewed in a cross-sectional survey. The participants were asked about characteristics of their eldest siblings, including their vital status, year of birth, and year of death (if deceased). The association between personal characteristics and mortality risk was estimated for 682 male and 698 female siblings (of whom 122 and 81, respectively, had died).
Results: In both sexes, mortality was strongly associated with smoking and low education. After adjustment for smoking and education, mortality was elevated in men and women who drank alcohol at least once a month. Mortality was also higher among in men who had been binge drinking (more than half a bottle of vodka per drinking session) at least once a week (adjusted risk ratio [RR] = 2.5; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2-4.9) and in women who were binging at least once a month (RR = 3.9; CI = 1.1-14.5) compared with nonbinging.
Subjects: Similar associations with drinking were seen for cardiovascular deaths in men. Childhood social circumstances were not associated with mortality.
Conclusions: The study of siblings appears to be a cost-effective alternative for estimating risk factors for mortality in literate populations. This study identified smoking, low education, and alcohol consumption (especially binge drinking) as risk factors for mortality in Russia.