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Keywords:

  • Alcohol drinking;
  • evaluation;
  • community intervention;
  • controlled trial;
  • prevention;
  • public health

ABSTRACT

Aims  To evaluate differences in the individual alcohol consumption after a community-based prevention programme.

Design settings and participants  ‘Alcohol, less is better’ is a controlled intervention trial. The intervention adopted a community approach, based on the active involvement of community leaders and institutional or volunteer organizations. Between 1999 and 2006, 2.5 years of activities aiming at informing and sensitizing the community on the harmful effects of alcohol on social life and health were carried out in 10 selected small Italian communities, involving a total of 123 235 individuals. Eight communities were chosen as control group.

Measurements  Changes in self-reported individual alcohol consumption before and after the intervention were assessed on a random sample of intervention (n = 3382) and control (n = 2644) populations, using telephone and mailed surveys. Linear and log-linear models for repeated measures were used to evaluate differences between intervention and control samples.

Findings  Overall, a significant reduction (P < 0.001) of individual self-reported alcohol consumption was observed in the intervention sample (−1.1 drinks/week) relative to control sample (+0.3 drinks/week). The reduction was significantly greater in males than in females (P for heterogeneity = 0.016). In the young (15–24-year-olds) intervention and control samples showed opposite trends (−0.4 drinks/week and +1.7 drinks/week, respectively).

Conclusions  A coordinated community-based intervention can reduce alcohol consumption in the general population.