The potential individual- and population-level benefits of encouraging drinkers to count their drinks
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© 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Introduction: Cross-sectional studies have established a link between overall engagement in protective behavioral strategies (PBSs) and reduced alcohol consumption. However, there are mixed results on the effectiveness of individual PBSs, with some found to result in increased consumption. A recent study examining the effects of PBS use over time found the ‘Count your drinks’ strategy to be most reliably associated with reduced alcohol consumption among 16 strategies. Given the apparent superior efficacy of this PBS, this exploratory study aimed to extend these results by (i) determining the extent to which increasing the frequency of PBS enactment is associated with alcohol consumption over time and (ii) predicting potential changes in population-level consumption resulting from higher levels of PBS use.
Method: 1250 drinkers aged 18–70 years provided data at two time points relating to their drinking practices. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to model the relationship between changes in frequency of enactment of the ‘Count your drinks’ PBS and alcohol consumption. Coefficients were used to predict average reductions in alcohol consumption over one year associated with increased frequency of use of this PBS.
Results: Larger increases in the frequency of using the ‘Count your drinks’ PBS were associated with greater reductions in alcohol consumption. Exploratory extrapolation analyses demonstrated the potential for substantial reductions in overall alcohol consumption. Conclusion: The results suggest health promotion efforts designed to increase the frequency with which drinkers count their drinks could produce substantial annual decreases in alcohol consumption at both individual and population levels.
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