Hazardous alcohol consumption among university students in Ireland: a cross-sectional study

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Davoren, Martin P.
Shiely, Frances
Byrne, Michael
Perry, Ivan J.
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Objective: There is considerable evidence of a cultural shift towards heavier alcohol consumption among university students, especially women. The aim of this study is to investigate the prevalence and correlates of hazardous alcohol consumption (HAC) among university students with particular reference to gender and to compare different modes of data collection in this population. Setting: A large Irish university. Design: A cross-sectional study using a classroom distributed paper questionnaire. Participants: A total of 2275 undergraduates completed the classroom survey, 84% of those in class and 51% of those registered for the relevant module. Main outcome measures: Prevalence of HAC measured using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test for Consumption (AUDIT-C) and the proportion of university students reporting 1 or more of 13 adverse consequences linked to HAC. HAC was defined as an AUDIT-C score of 6 or more among males and 5 or more among females. Results: In the classroom sample, 66.4% (95% CI 64.4 to 68.3) reported HAC (65.2% men and 67.3% women). In women, 57.4% met HAC thresholds for men. Similar patterns of adverse consequences were observed among men and women. Students with a hazardous consumption pattern were more likely to report smoking, illicit drug use and being sexually active. Conclusions: The findings highlight the high prevalence of HAC among university students relative to the general population. Public policy measures require review to tackle the short-term and long-term risks to physical, mental and social health and well-being.
Alcohol consumption , University students , Women , Ireland , Hazardous alcohol consumption (HAC) , Public health
Davoren, M. P., Shiely, F., Byrne, M. and Perry, I. J. (2015) 'Hazardous alcohol consumption among university students in Ireland: a cross-sectional study'. BMJ Open, 5: e006045 (8pp). doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006045
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