The standard drink and alcohol consumption

Authors

  • SUSAN J. CARRUTHERS,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Centre for Research into the Prevention of Drug Abuse, Perth, Australia
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      Susan J. Carruthers, MPH, Research and Evaluation Officer, Healthway, PO Box 1284, West Perth, Western Australia, 6872, Australia

  • COLIN W. BINNS

    1. Department of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
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      Colin W. Binns, MBBS, MPH, FRACGP, FACOM, Head, Department of Public Health, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia.


National Centre for Research into the Prevention of Drug Abuse, Perth, Australia

Abstract

The term ‘standard drink’ is commonly used when researchers collect alcohol consumption data and when educators create campaigns to encourage people to drink responsibly. However, little is known about community knowledge of the term ‘standard drink’ or what it represents in terms of what people are drinking in their own homes or on unlicensed premises. This study measured the amounts of a variety of alcoholic beverages that a sample of Perth metropolitan people use when drinking on unlicensed premises. The level of knowledge of the alcohol content of a variety of beverages and the knowledge of the term standard drink and what it represents in terms of commonly consumed beverages was also measured. The results showed that knowledge of the alcohol content of beverages was very poor. Knowledge of the term standard drink and what it represents in terms of absolute alcohol was also poor. Regarding the amounts of beverages poured, red and white wine, champagne and spirits are likely to be poured in amounts well in excess of a standard drink when people are drinking in their own homes. The results of this study have implications for the efficacy of educational campaigns designed to encourage safe and responsible drinking practices through the monitoring of personal intake. Before these can be effective, the terminology used must be familiar and well understood by the community towards which they are aimed. The results also discussed with respect to the design and administration of alcohol consumption questionnaires.

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