Background: Although we know a great deal about the percentage of youth who drink alcohol, we know very little about the specific brands they choose to drink. This information gap needs to be addressed if public health officials are to develop more effective interventions. Unfortunately, there are no national youth surveys that collect data on alcohol brand consumption. In this paper, we describe the development and pilot testing of what we believe to be the first comprehensive, Internet-based youth survey of brand-specific alcohol use.
Methods: We used online advertising in 3 U.S. cities to recruit a convenience sample of 241 respondents, ages 16 to 18 years. We used Craigslist, a network of online communities that features local classified advertisements, to recruit the sample. We used SurveyGizmo, an online software program for designing Internet surveys, collecting data, and performing basic analysis, to survey these respondents about their brand-specific alcohol consumption patterns. The survey instrument assessed each respondent’s 30-day drinking history, including the frequency of consumption for each alcohol brand.
Results: Using Internet survey technology, we were able to collect information on 366 brands and still have respondents complete the instrument quickly and easily. The total number of brands consumed in the past 30 days ranged from 1 to 18, with a median of 4 brands. The top 5 brands consumed were beer brands, as were eleven of the top 15 brands. The remaining 4 brands in the top 15 included 3 brands of flavored alcoholic beverages and 1 brand of mixed drink. Among the top 15 alcohol brands consumed during heavy drinking episodes were 8 brands of beer, 4 brands of flavored alcoholic beverages, 2 brands of wine, and 1 brand of mixed drink.
Conclusions: This pilot study helps establish the feasibility of including brand-specific questions on federal or other national youth alcohol surveys.