• 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.
    • 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