My background is in medical science and public health. I am a third year doctoral candidate at the University of Sheffield funded by the NIHR School for Public Health Research. My PhD is focused on using event-level methods to understand the relationship between contextual characteristics of drinking occasions, alcohol consumption and acute alcohol-related harm. I am using time-series methods to analyse a large repeat cross-sectional survey. I have also collaborated on a project analysing the effectiveness of announcing revised UK drinking guidelines in January 2016. I am presenting work from this project at the conference. I intend to continue working in alcohol research and am particularly interested in reducing health inequalities.
Effects on alcohol consumption of announcing revised UK low risk drinking guidelines
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Introduction: Health authorities publish alcohol consumption guidelines for low risk drinking in most high income countries but the effects of these guidelines on alcohol consumption are unclear. In January 2016, the UK’s Chief Medical Officers announced revised guidelines recommending that men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units (112g) per week, a reduction to the previous male guideline of 3-4 units (24-32g) per day. This paper evaluates the effect of announcing the revised guidelines on alcohol consumption.
Methods: Data came from the March 2014 to October 2017 waves of the Alcohol Toolkit Survey, a monthly repeat cross-sectional survey of approximately 1,600 adults (18+) living in private households in England. The primary outcome is participants’ AUDIT-C scores. Effects are estimated using segmented regression. Secondary analyses test for alternative breakpoints in the long-term trend and pulse effects.
Results: The main analysis showed no significant step-change in AUDIT-C scores following announcement of the guideline (ß=0.001, CI:-0.079-0.099) but there was a change in the subsequent trend such that scores increased more rapidly after the announcement (ß=0.008, CI:0.001-0.015). Secondary analyses of alternative breakpoints suggested the change in trend began earlier, in June, before the new guidelines were announced. Secondary analyses of pulse effected suggested that AUDIT-C scores reduced temporarily for three months after the new guidelines were announced (ß=-0.126, CI:-0.218–0.034).
Conclusions: Announcing new UK drinking guidelines did not lead to a substantial or sustained reduction in drinking or a downturn in the long-term trend in alcohol consumption.