Home > Alcohol consumption patterns 1992–2002.

Connor, Aileen (2008) Alcohol consumption patterns 1992–2002. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 25, Spring 2008, p. 12.

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Eurobarometer (1992) had 1,877 valid respondents aged 18 years or over, SLAN (1998) had 6,370 and SLAN (2002) had 5,931. Respondents’ average alcohol intake was measured in units of alcohol typically imbibed in one week. One unit of alcohol was calculated as a half pint of beer, lager, stout or cider, a single measure of spirits or a single glass of wine, sherry, port or premixed drinks. Abstainers represented 39% of the overall sample population in 1992, 17% in 1998 and 16% in 2002. The abstainers in 1992 were 48% women (454) and 30% men (274); in 1998, 19% women (622) and 14% men (400); and in 2002, 17% women (581) and 15% men (349).
Respondents who consumed at least one unit of alcohol a week represented 61.2% (1,149) of the sample population in 1992, 53.7% (3,418) in 1998 and 48.6% (2,885) in 2002, and are therefore well represented for the purpose of secondary analysis.
Table 1 details the average number of units, by type of alcohol, consumed per week by respondents in the three survey periods. The mean range of values is used to report average consumption, as different methods were employed to collect data for Eurobarometer and for SLAN. A statistically significant increase or decrease in consumption can be said to occur if no overlap exists between the mean ranges reported for consecutive survey years.
In all three survey years, respondents who drank beer had the highest weekly alcohol intake, while wine drinkers reported the lowest levels. The increase in weekly consumption between 1992 and 1998 is significant for every alcohol type, with beer drinkers showing the greatest increase, imbibing 9.0–9.6 units of alcohol more per week in 1998 than in 1992. Wine drinkers showed the second highest increase in average weekly consumption over this period, at 5.8–6.3 units. Consumers of spirits showed the smallest increase, at 4.3–4.8 units.
It must be noted that there are limits to the extent to which the Eurobarometer and SLAN data typify the level of alcohol use in Ireland. Neither survey was designed to collect information specifically on alcohol use, and results may have been influenced by methodological differences, such as sampling frame, item wording, and method and timing of data collection. The Eurobarometer survey reported a much higher response rate than either of the SLAN surveys, possibly because it was administered through face-to-face interviews rather than by post. Nevertheless, both surveys offer some insights into trends in alcohol consumption in Ireland from 1992 to 2002.
1. Eurobarometer 37.01 merges the responses to identical questions from two Eurobarometer surveys, Eurobarometer 37.0: Awareness and importance of Maastricht and the future of the European Community, March-April 1992 and Eurobarometer 37.1: Consumer goods and social security, April-May 1992. Brussels: INRA (Europe). Available at http://www.ucd.ie/issda
2. SLAN (1999) The National Health and Lifestyle Surveys. Centre for Health Promotion Studies, NUI, Galway and Department of Health and Children.
3. SLAN (2003) The National Health and Lifestyle Surveys. Centre for Health Promotion Studies, NUI, Galway and Department of Health and Children



Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Issue Title
Issue 25, Spring 2008
Page Range
p. 12
Health Research Board
Issue 25, Spring 2008
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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