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Lay epidemiology and the interpretation of low-risk drinking guidelines by adults in the United Kingdom

Lovatt, Melanie; Eadie, Douglas; Meier, Petra S.; Li, Jessica; Bauld, Linda; Hastings, Gerard and Holmes, John (2015). Lay epidemiology and the interpretation of low-risk drinking guidelines by adults in the United Kingdom. Addiction, 110(12) pp. 1912–1919.

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DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/add.13072
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Abstract

Aims

To explore how the concept of lay epidemiology can enhance understandings of how drinkers make sense of current UK drinking guidelines.

Methods

Qualitative study using 12 focus groups in four sites in northern England and four sites in central Scotland. Participants were 66 male and female drinkers, aged between 19 and 65 years, of different socio-economic backgrounds. Data were analysed thematically using a conceptual framework of lay epidemiology.

Results

Current drinking guidelines were perceived as having little relevance to participants' drinking behaviours and were generally disregarded. Daily guidelines were seen as irrelevant by drinkers whose drinking patterns comprised heavy weekend drinking. The amounts given in the guidelines were seen as unrealistic for those motivated to drink for intoxication, and participants measured alcohol intake in numbers of drinks or containers rather than units. Participants reported moderating their drinking, but this was out of a desire to fulfil work and family responsibilities, rather than concerns for their own health. The current Australian and Canadian guidelines were preferred to UK guidelines, as they were seen to address many of the above problems.

Conclusions

Drinking guidelines derived from, and framed within, solely epidemiological paradigms lack relevance for adult drinkers who monitor and moderate their alcohol intake according to their own knowledge and risk perceptions derived primarily from experience. Insights from lay epidemiology into how drinkers regulate and monitor their drinking should be used in the construction of drinking guidelines to enhance their credibility and efficacy.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2015 The Authors
ISSN: 0965-2140
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
National Prevention Research Initiative GrantMR/J000523/1UK Medical Research Council
Keywords: Alcohol; drinking practices; drinking guidelines; lay epidemiology; qualitative; units
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Item ID: 50999
Depositing User: Gerard Hastings
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2017 09:36
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 21:56
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/50999
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