"You have to be prepared to drink" : students’ views about reducing excessive alcohol consumption at university

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Davies, E., Law, C. and Hennelly, S. () '"You have to be prepared to drink" : students’ views about reducing excessive alcohol consumption at university', Health Education, 118 (1) pp. 2-16.

Purpose: Many existing interventions to reduce excessive drinking in University students attempt to target individual cognitions, which ignore the wider contextual features that drive excessive drinking and mark it as an important aspect of university life. The overall aim of this study was to explore students’ views about preventing excessive drinking at university, specifically by using frameworks that take into both account individual and social influences. Methods: Twenty-three young adults aged 20-30 (12 females; M age = 22.91; SD = 2.57; 18 students, 5 recent graduates) took part in semi-structured interviews to explore their views about drinking and measures to reduce excessive consumption. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings: There were three themes identified in the analysis. These themes were named ‘the role of alcohol in student life’, drinking transitions’, and ‘prevention challenges’ and each had related sub-themes. Practical implications: Targeting students before they commence their course and highlighting aspects of university life that do not involve alcohol may help to reduce the pressure often felt to drink in social situations. Providing novel, credible alternative socialising options that do not involve alcohol should be explored to determine their acceptability, and their potential to reduce excessive drinking. Originality/value: Few studies explore what students themselves think about reducing alcohol consumption, and most interventions focus on changing individual cognitions rather than features of the social environment. This study highlights that changing social practices related to drinking in combination with targeting individuals may be more fruitful approach to reduce excessive alcohol consumption.

AuthorsEmma Louise Davies
Cara Law
Sarah Hennelly
FacultyFaculty of Health and Life Sciences
Keywordsalcohol, university students