Alcohol outlet density and university student drinking: a national study

Authors

  • Kypros Kypri,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Australia,
    2. Injury Prevention Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand,
      Kyp Kypri, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan 2308 NSW, Australia. E-mail: kypros.kypri@newcastle.edu.au
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  • Melanie L. Bell,

    1. Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand and
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  • Geoff C. Hay,

    1. Injury Prevention Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand,
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  • Joanne Baxter

    1. Ngai Tahu Maori Health Research Centre, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand
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Kyp Kypri, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan 2308 NSW, Australia. E-mail: kypros.kypri@newcastle.edu.au

ABSTRACT

Aims  To examine the geographic density of alcohol outlets and associations with drinking levels and related problems among university students.

Design  Cross-sectional survey study using geospatial data, with campus-level and individual-level analyses.

Participants  A total of 2550 students (mean age 20.2, 60% women) at six university campuses in New Zealand (63% response).

Measurements  Counts of alcohol outlets within 3 km of each campus were tested for their non-parametric correlation with aggregated campus drinking levels and related problems. Generalized estimating equations were used to model the relation between outlet counts within 1 km and 3 km of student residences and individual drinking levels/problems, with control for gender, age, ethnicity and high school binge drinking frequency, and adjustment for campus-level clustering.

Findings  Correlations for campus-level data were 0.77 (P = 0.07) for drinking and personal problems, and 0.31 (P = 0.54) for second-hand effects. There were consistent significant associations of both on- and off-licence outlet densities with all outcomes in student-level adjusted models. Effects were largest for 1 km densities and off-licence outlets.

Conclusions  There are positive associations between alcohol outlet density and individual drinking and related problems. Associations remain after controlling for demographic variables and pre-university drinking, i.e. the associations are unlikely to be due to self-selection effects. Increasing alcohol outlet density, and particularly off-licences, may increase alcohol-related harm among university students.

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