Get access

Risky Single-Occasion Drinking and Disadvantaged Men: Will Recruitment Through Primary Care Miss Hazardous Drinkers?


Reprint requests: Iain K. Crombie, PhD, University of Dundee, The Mackenzie Building, Kirsty Semple Way, Dundee DD2 4BF, UK; Tel.: +44-01382-383745; Fax: +44-01382-383802; E-mail:



Men who are socially disadvantaged are at a substantially higher risk of developing alcohol-related diseases. People from deprived areas are known to be more difficult to recruit to research studies. As part of a feasibility assessment for an intervention study, 2 recruitment strategies were investigated. This article compares the drinking patterns of the disadvantaged men identified by the 2 strategies.


A cross-sectional survey compared 2 strategies for recruiting disadvantaged men to a study on alcohol consumption: recruitment through general practice (GP) registers and through a community outreach strategy, respondent-driven sampling (RDS). Men aged 25 to 44 years were recruited from deprived areas in the community. The entry criterion was binge drinking (≥8 units in a single session) at least twice in the previous 4 weeks. Demographic characteristics, total consumption of alcohol, frequency of binge drinking (≥8 units in a session), and heavy binge drinking (≥16 units in a session) were measured.


Men recruited by RDS drank more than twice as much as the men recruited through GP (137 units in the previous 30 days compared with 62 units; p = 0.003). They also had many more binge drinking days: more than half (57%) of men from RDS had 6 or more binge drinking days in the previous 30 days, whereas only 16% of the GP sample had 6 or more binge drinking days (p = 0.001). Many more men recruited by RDS (37% vs. 5%; p = 0.002) had more than 5 very heavy drinking sessions in the previous month (≥16 units in a session). The RDS group also had fewer alcohol-free days.


The 2 sampling strategies recruited different types of drinkers. The men recruited through RDS were much more likely to engage in frequent harmful drinking. The results indicate that the 2 methods recruit different samples of disadvantaged men. Intervention studies that are only conducted through primary care may miss many harmful drinkers.