Know your limits: Awareness of the 2009 Australian alcohol guidelines among young people

Authors


Anna L. Bowring BBiomedSci, MPH, Research Assistant, Judy Gold BBiomedSci (Hons), PhD, Research Assistant, Paul Dietze BSc (Hons), PhD (Sci), Principal for Alcohol and Other Drugs, Maelenn Gouillou MSc (Stats), Statistician, Caroline van Gemert B Arts/Hlth Sci, MPH, MAppEpi, Epidemiologist, Margaret E. Hellard MBBS, FRACP, PhD, FAFPHM, Co-Head of Centre for Population Health. Ms Anna Bowring, Centre for Population Health, Burnet Institute, 85 Commercial Road, Melbourne, Vic. 3004, Australia; or GPO Box 2284, Melbourne, Vic. 3001, Australia. Tel: +61 (0)3 8506 2302; Fax: +61 (0)3 9282 2138; E-mail: annab@burnet.edu.au

Abstract

Introduction and Aims.Young people are at high risk of alcohol-related harm and injury. This study assessed awareness of the 2009 Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol, understanding of alcohol-related risks and drinking behaviours among young people.

Design and Methods.We recruited participants (16–29 years) from a music festival in Melbourne, Australia, January 2010. Participants self-completed a risk behaviour questionnaire which included questions regarding the 2009 guidelines. Characteristics associated with awareness of the guidelines and accurate understanding of a ‘safe’ number of drinks to avoid long-term harm and injury (defined as a maximum of two drinks daily and four drinks on a single occasion, respectively) were examined using multivariable logistic regression.

Results.Of 1381 participants, only 32% were aware of the 2009 guidelines, but the majority had an accurate understanding of the safe number of drinks to avoid long-term harm (74%) and injury (71%). Nonetheless, many reported drinking behaviour with risk of long-term harm (22%) or injury (54%). Participants with lower-risk drinking behaviours were more likely to have an accurate understanding of the safe number of drinks to avoid harm. Males and participants without post-high school education were significantly less likely to be aware of the guidelines and/or have an accurate understanding of alcohol-related risks (P < 0.05).

Discussion and Conclusions.Although raising awareness of alcohol-related risks may promote reduced alcohol consumption, many young people reported consuming alcohol at harmful levels despite having an accurate understanding of alcohol-related risks. Multiple approaches to reducing alcohol-related harm in young people should be considered.[Bowring AL, Gold J, Dietze P, Gouillou M, van Gemert C, Hellard ME. Know your limits: Awareness of the 2009 Australian alcohol guidelines among young people. Drug Alcohol Rev 2012;31:213–223]

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