• Binge drinking behaviour, attitudes and beliefs in a UK community sample: An analysis by age, gender and deprivation.

      McMahon, J.; McAlaney, John; Edgar, F. (Informa Healthcare, 2007)
      Binge drinking has sparked considerable interest and concern. However despite this interest little is known about the lay understanding of binge drinking and whether there are differences in understanding by gender, age and level of deprivation. Aims: This study investigated the beliefs and attitudes of a sample in the Inverclyde area to binge drinking. Methods: Using both cluster and quota sampling, 586 subjects completed a structured interview, using open questions about their beliefs on binge drinking and was it a problem generally and locally. Findings: Definitions of binge drinking tended to concentrate on intoxication and some described a dependent drinking pattern. Causes and solutions offered were varied but pointed up levels of deprivation in respect of jobs and entertainment. More subjects regarded binge drinking as a problem in society than locally, which is consistent with research suggesting that misperceptions of others¿ drinking increases with social distance. Differences in beliefs were found by age and level of deprivation but not gender. It was marked that no subject offered the `official¿ definition of bingeing or even an approximation of it. Conclusions: Further research is required if future mass media campaigns and interventions are to be relevant to the population.
    • Change over time in alcohol consumption in control groups in brief intervention studies: Systematic review and meta-regression study.

      Jenkins, R.J.; McAlaney, John; McCambridge, J. (Elsevier, 2009)
      Reactivity to assessment has attracted recent attention in the brief alcohol intervention literature. This systematic review sought to examine the nature of change in alcohol consumption over time in control groups in brief intervention studies. Primary studies were identified from existing reviews published in English language, peer-reviewed journals between 1995 and 2005. Change in alcohol consumption and selected study-level characteristics for each primary study were extracted. Consumption change data were pooled in random effects models and meta-regression was used to explore predictors of change. Eleven review papers reported the results of 44 individual studies. Twenty-six of these studies provided data suitable for quantitative study. Extreme heterogeneity was identified and the extent of observed reduction in consumption over time was greater in studies undertaken in Anglophone countries, with single gender study participants, and without special targeting by age. Heterogeneity was reduced but was still substantial in a sub-set of 15 general population studies undertaken in English language countries. The actual content of the control group procedure itself was not predictive of reduction in drinking, nor were a range of other candidate variables including setting, the exclusion of dependent drinkers, the collection of a biological sample at follow-up, and duration of study. Further investigations may yield novel insights into the nature of behaviour change with potential to inform brief interventions design.
    • Diagnosing and dealing with the 'new British disease'.

      McAlaney, John; McMahon, J. (British Psychological Society, 2007-12)
    • Establishing rates of binge drinking in the UK: anomalies in the data

      McAlaney, John; McMahon, J. (Oxford University Press, 2006)
      Aims: Several studies funded by the UK government have been influential in understanding `binge drinking¿ rates in the UK. This analysis aims to establish consistency between results and clarify UK rates of binge drinking. Method: The relevant sections of these surveys were compared: the Scottish Health Survey (SHS) 1998, the General Household Survey (GHS) 2002 and the Health Survey for England (HSE) 2003. In addition the methodology used by the Health Protection Agency in the Adult Drinking Patterns in Northern Ireland (2003) was compared to the approach used by the SHS, GHS and HSE. Results: Marked differences were observed between the results of the GHS 2002 and both the SHS 1998 and the HSE 2002 despite each using a similar methodology, with the HSE 2003 reporting a rate of binge drinking in young males of 57%, and the GHS a rate of 35%. These difference may be largely attributed to variations in the criteria in binge drinking in each study. These differences in interpretation do not appear to have been acknowledged. Indeed several key alcohol harm reduction documents made inaccurate citations of previous surveys. Conclusion: The media rhetoric on escalating rates of binge drinking in the UK should be regarded with caution until trends are based on standardized recording and reporting .
    • Normative beliefs, misperceptions, and heavy episodic drinking in a British student sample.

      McAlaney, John; McMahon, J. (Rutgers University, 2007)
      Objective: Numerous studies have demonstrated the existence and effect of normative misperceptions on heavy episodic drinking behavior. However, there has been little work on these processes or application of normative-belief interventions outside the U.S. college system. The aim of the current study, therefore, was to investigate heavy episodic drinking and normative misperceptions in a U.K. university setting. Method: An email containing a link to a survey Web site was distributed to all current undergraduate students at the University of Paisley, Scotland. In addition to age and gender questions, the survey contained items on students¿ personal behavior and perception of the level of that behavior in three groups of increasing social distance: close friends, other students of the same age, and other people of the same age in U.K. society in general. Results: Completed surveys from 500 respondents were returned. In keeping with previous research, significant correlations were found between the respondents¿ behavior and the perception of that behavior in others, with beliefs about the most proximal individuals being the most strongly correlated. The majority of respondents were also found to overestimate alcohol consumption in other students. An age effect was noted, in which misperceptions appeared to decrease with age but did not vary between genders. Conclusions: The findings of the study indicate that the normative-belief alcohol consumption processes that have been found on U.S. college campuses also operate in U.K. university settings. This raises the possibility of applying social-norms interventions from the United States to the United Kingdom and potentially elsewhere in the world. Furthermore, the study noted apparent age effects in the degree of misperception, the implications of which are discussed