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El Ansari, Walid; Sebena, Rene; Stock, Christiane (2013)
Publisher: BioMed Central
Journal: Archives of Public Health
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: University students, Gender, L1, Alcohol dependence, Sociodemographic and educational characteristics, Problem drinking, Heavy episodic drinking, Research
BACKGROUND: This study assessed the prevalence of six alcohol consumption indicators in a sample of university students. We also examined whether students' sociodemographic and educational characteristics were associated with any of the six alcohol consumption indicators; and whether associations between students' sociodemographic and educational characteristics and the six alcohol consumption indicators differed by gender. METHODS: A cross-sectional study of 3706 students enrolled at 7 universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A self-administered questionnaire assessed six alcohol consumption measures: length of time of last (most recent) drinking occasion; amount consumed during last drinking occasion; frequency of alcohol consumption; heavy episodic drinking (>/= 5 drinks in a row); problem drinking; and possible alcohol dependence as measured by CAGE. The questionnaire also collected information on seven relevant student sociodemographic characteristics (age, gender, academic year of study, current living circumstances - accommodation with parents, whether student was in intimate relationship, socioeconomic status of parents - parental education, income sufficiency) and two academic achievement variables (importance of achieving good grades at university, and one's academic performance in comparison with one's peers). RESULTS: The majority of students (65% of females, 76% of males) reported heavy episodic drinking at least once within the last 2 weeks, and problem drinking was prevalent in 20% of females and 29% of males. Factors consistently positively associated with all six indicators of alcohol consumption were male gender and perceived insufficient income. Other factors such as living away from home, being in 1st or 2nd year of studies, having no intimate partner, and lower academic achievement were associated with some, but not all indicators of alcohol consumption. CONCLUSIONS: The high level of alcohol consumption calls for regular/periodic monitoring of student use of alcohol, and for urgent preventive actions and intervention programmes at the universities in the UK.

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