Measuring alcohol consumption in population surveys: a review of international guidelines and comparison with surveys in England

Nugawela, Manjula D. and Langley, Tessa and Szatkowski, Lisa and Lewis, Sarah (2016) Measuring alcohol consumption in population surveys: a review of international guidelines and comparison with surveys in England. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 51 (1). pp. 84-92. ISSN 1464-3502

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Aims: To review the international guidelines and recommendations on survey instruments for measurement of alcohol consumption in population surveys, and to examine how national surveys in England meet the core recommendations.

Methods: A systematic search for international guidelines for measuring alcohol consumption in population surveys was undertaken. The common core recommendations for alcohol consumption measures and survey instruments were identified. Alcohol consumption questions in national surveys in England were compared with these recommendations for specific years and over time since 2000.

Results: Four sets of international guidelines and three core alcohol consumption measures (alcohol consumption status, average volume of consumption, frequency and volume of binge drinking) with another optional measure (drinking context) were identified. English national surveys have been inconsistent over time in including questions that provide information on average volume of consumption but have not included questions on another essential alcohol consumption measure, frequency of heavy episodic drinking. Instead they have used questions that focus only on maximum volume of alcohol consumed on any day in the previous week.

Conclusions: International guidelines provide consistent recommendations for measuring alcohol consumption in population surveys. These recommendations have not been consistently applied in English national surveys and this has contributed to the inadequacy of survey measurements for monitoring vital aspects of alcohol consumption in England over recent years.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Alcohol and Alcoholism following peer review. The version of record Measuring Alcohol Consumption in Population Surveys: A Review of International Guidelines and Comparison with Surveys in England Manjula D. Nugawela, Tessa Langley, Lisa Szatkowski, Sarah Lewis Alcohol and Alcoholism Jan 2016, 51 (1) 84-92; DOI: 10.1093/alcalc/agv073 is available online at:
Keywords: Guideline, Alcohol Drinking, Health Surveys, England
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine > Division of Epidemiology and Public Health
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Szatkowski, Lisa
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2016 08:33
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2016 07:11

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