Behavioural alcohol research: new directions or more of the same?


Mr Anthony Shakeshaft, Hunter Centre for Health Advancement, Locked Bag No. 10, Wallsend, NSW, 2287, Australia. Tel: + 61 49 246381; Fax: + 61 49 246209; e-mail:


Aim. Despite a large body of literature, a substantial burden of illness related to the abuse of alcohol, as well as significant economic and social costs, persist. As such, a critical examination of the type of research being published in relation to alcohol misuse seems appropriate, particularly since some experts in the field have expressed the view that the current distribution of research types may not be optimal. Findings. The types of research conducted in two separate years, 1983 and 1993, were examined critically. Generally, the types of research conducted in both years was found to be similar: the majority of published alcohol research is behavioural, the majority of published behavioural alcohol research is descriptive and the majority of published behavioural intervention alcohol research represents tertiary prevention studies. Although the reasons for this distribution of research types are undoubtedly numerous and complex, some possible explanations are discussed. Conclusions. Overall, it is concluded that the current approach to alcohol research may have engendered a distribution of research types which is somewhat less than ideal and that, as such, a new approach may be indicated. Some strategies that may assist in redressing the perceived imbalance are considered.