Community-based campaigns such as workplace policies, school-based intervention and identifying and targeting high-risk weekends are unlikely to stop risky alcohol consumption.
A study by Australian researchers found that alcohol-related crime, road-traffic crashes and hospital admissions don’t differ between communities who did and and those who didn’t have community-based interventions.
Professor Anthony Shakeshaft and colleagues from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales conducted a five-year trial involving 20 rural communities in New South Wales.
They measured the effectiveness of 13 community-based interventions using routinely collected data on alcohol-related harms, and a survey of drinking habits and experiences of alcohol-related harm.
Interventions included school and work-based education and training, media messaging on harms, screening and brief advice in general practice, pharmacies and hospital emergency departments, and targeting high-risk individuals and high-risk times.
They found here were no statistically significantly differences between the 10 communities with interventions and the 10 control communities.
However, some individuals reported lower average weekly consumption of alcohol (20% lower, or about to 1.9 fewer standard drinks per week) and alcohol-related verbal abuse.
However, these findings were based on low survey response rates.
The authors say: “This RCT (randomised controlled trial) provides little evidence that community action significantly reduces risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms, other than potential reductions in self-reported average weekly consumption and experience of alcohol-related verbal abuse.”
The study, ‘The Effectiveness of Community Action in Reducing Risky Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial‘, is published in the journal PLOS Medicine.
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