Descriptors and accounts of alcohol consumption: methodological issues piloted with female undergraduate drinkers in Scotland

Faculty of Health and Biological Sciences, Queen Margaret University College, Leith, Edinburgh EH12 8TS, UK.
Health Education Research (Impact Factor: 1.66). 03/2007; 22(1):27-36. DOI: 10.1093/her/cyl037
Source: PubMed


Excessive drinking among young women continues to attract adverse media attention and is the target of UK government-led initiatives. Reliable research on alcohol consumption is needed to inform/evaluate public health interventions. This pilot study, investigating descriptors of alcohol drinking in female Scottish undergraduate students, comprised: (i) self-completed questionnaire survey (n = 95) and (ii) interview plus test pouring of a 'drink' (n = 19). Self-reports by 70% of drinkers (n = 90) indicated alcohol consumption for the 'week past' meriting classification as 'binge' drinking, and 83% of this group reported drinking in this fashion at least fortnightly. However, binge drinking may be underestimated since poured drinks were measured to be on average double the alcohol content of a standard drink, drinking often occurred outwith licensed premises and respondents preferred to quantify consumption in (fractions of) bottles, rather than glasses. Qualitative analysis showed that interviewees oriented to drinking as an accountable practice but were unaware of the clinical definition of binge drinking. They defined it in terms of the effect of alcohol consumed on individual behaviour, not in absolute quantities. Given the unreliability of self-reported consumption, future health surveys and initiatives should consider 'quantifying' alcohol in a way more meaningful to the population of interest, in terms of effect.

Download full-text


Available from: Jan Gill, Apr 16, 2014
21 Reads
  • Source
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: First Page of the Article
    IEEE 1984 Ultrasonics Symposium; 02/1984
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Binge drinking in young people, particularly females and students, is a source of some concern to those engaged in health education. The concept is usually defined in terms of quantities of alcohol consumed within a relatively short space of time. Research suggests that reasons for drinking are varied, and are likely to be influenced by culture and context. This study aimed to explore issues important to female undergraduate students in Scotland. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 19 participants who were asked to describe what they understand by the term 'binge drinking', why they drink and what might trigger excessive consumption. Discourse analysis was used to explore the possible 'functions' of what was said, as well as the content. Participants showed sensitivity to how others might interpret their responses. They described binge drinking in terms of its behavioural effects rather than quantities consumed. Crucially, they positioned themselves outside the categories of 'serious' or 'anti-social' drinkers. These findings have important implications for our understanding of factors influencing drinking behaviour in this group of people, which in turn impacts on the potential design of health-enhancing interventions. The study also demonstrates the usefulness of a discourse analytic approach to accounts of drinking behaviour.
    Health Education Research 01/2008; 22(6):895-906. DOI:10.1093/her/cym034 · 1.66 Impact Factor
Show more