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Home > Perceived determinants to alcohol consumption and misuse: a survey of university students.

Muli, Nicholas and Lagan, Briege M (2017) Perceived determinants to alcohol consumption and misuse: a survey of university students. Perspectives in Public Health , 137 , (6) , pp. 326-336. doi: 10.1177/1757913917710569.

AIM: Before an attempt is made to develop any population-specific behavioural change programme, it is important to know what the factors that influence behaviours are. The aim of this study was to identify what are the perceived determinants that attribute to young people's choices to both consume and misuse alcohol.

METHOD: Using a descriptive survey design, a web-based questionnaire based on the Theory of Triadic Influence was administered to students aged 18-29 years at one university in Northern Ireland.

RESULTS: Out of the total respondents ( n = 595), knowledge scores on alcohol consumption and the health risks associated with heavy episodic drinking were high (92.4%, n = 550). Over half (54.1%, n = 322) cited the Internet as their main source for alcohol-related information. The three most perceived influential factors of inclination to misuse alcohol were strains/conflict within the family home ( M = 2.98, standard deviation ( SD) = 0.18, 98.7%, n = 587), risk taking/curiosity behaviour ( M = 2.97, SD = 0.27, 97.3%, n = 579) and the desire not to be socially alienated ( M = 2.94, SD = 0.33, 96%, n = 571). Females were statistically significantly more likely to be influenced by desire not to be socially alienated than males (  p = .029). Religion and personal reasons were the most commonly cited reasons for not drinking.

CONCLUSION: Future initiatives to reduce alcohol misuse and alcohol-related harms need to focus on changing social normative beliefs and attitudes around alcohol consumption and the family and environmental factors that influence the choice of young adult's alcohol drinking behaviour. Investment in multi-component interventions may be a useful approach.

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