Community action not enough to reduce problem drinking and related harms

March 11, 2014, Public Library of Science

Implementation of community-based interventions alone is unlikely to be effective for reducing most alcohol-related harms and risky alcohol consumption, according to a study by Australian researchers published in this week's PLOS Medicine. Anthony Shakeshaft and colleagues from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW (University of New South Wales), report that alcohol-related crime, road-traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions did not differ between communities that did and did not implement community-based interventions.

The researchers reached these conclusions by conducting a five year cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) involving 20 communities in New South Wales. They quantified the effectiveness of 13 community-based interventions using routinely collected data on alcohol-related harms, and a survey of drinking habits and experiences of alcohol-related harm. Interventions included school and work-based education and training, media messaging on harms, screening and brief advice in general practice, pharmacies and hospital emergency departments, and targeting high risk individuals and high risk times.

After implementation of the interventions, the rates of alcohol-related crime, road-traffic crashes, hospital admissions, risky , and problem drinking were not statistically significantly different between the 10 communities that implemented the interventions and the 10 control communities, although there may have been limited power to detect a difference and uptake for some of the interventions was not consistent across all communities. The researchers did observe that following the interventions, individuals in the intervention communities reported statistically significantly lower average weekly consumption of alcohol than those in the control (20% lower, equivalent to 1.9 fewer standard drinks per week per respondent) and alcohol-related verbal abuse. However, these findings must be interpreted cautiously because they are based on low survey response rates.

The authors say: "This RCT provides little evidence that community action significantly reduces risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms, other than potential reductions in self-reported average weekly consumption and experience of alcohol-related verbal abuse."

Explore further: Minimum pricing for alcohol effectively targets high risk drinkers

More information: Shakeshaft A, Doran C, Petrie D, Breen C, Havard A, et al. (2014) The Effectiveness of Community Action in Reducing Risky Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial. PLoS Med 11(3): e1001617. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617

Related Stories

Minimum pricing for alcohol effectively targets high risk drinkers

February 10, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Minimum pricing for alcohol of 45p per unit would reduce deaths and hospital admissions among high risk drinkers who purchase large quantities of low cost alcohol, but would have negligible effects on low ...

Interventions work to stem freshman drinking

January 23, 2014
A new systematic review of data published in more than 40 studies of freshman alcohol interventions finds that there are many effective ways for colleges to mitigate common drinking patterns and problems among new students.

Study provides evidence of impacts of managed alcohol programs in Canada

March 11, 2014
The first controlled study of Managed Alcohol Programs (MAPs)—which provide supportive housing, food and alcohol to previously homeless people with severe and chronic alcohol dependencies—provides evidence of the health ...

Study debunks alcohol consumption assertions 

March 10, 2014
Alcohol consumption is not a direct cause of cognitive impairment in older men later in life, a study conducted by the University of Western Australia has found.

Research-based strategies help reduce underage drinking

January 15, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Strategies recommended by the Surgeon General to reduce underage drinking have shown promise when put into practice, according to scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), ...

Recommended for you

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

Study reveals what sleep talkers have to say

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France has conducted a study regarding sleep talking and has found that most sleep talking is not only negative in nature, but involves a large amount of swearing. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.