Home > Student alcohol research and prevention activity: pre-intervention report.

Ross-Houle, Kim and Quigg, Zara and Bigland, Charlotte and Collins, Petra (2018) Student alcohol research and prevention activity: pre-intervention report. Liverpool John Moores University.

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The ‘Student Alcohol Research and Prevention Activity’ (SARPA) project has been funded by Public Health Liverpool and aims to encourage students in Liverpool to drink less alcohol on a night out and to engage with events that have less of a focus on alcohol. 

The SARPA intervention is to be research informed, thus the research team from the Public Health Institute have conducted research that will be used to inform the development of the intervention. The research has explored student drinking culture in Liverpool, as well as the prevalence of drink promotions and alternative events that are not focused on intoxication. The research has also considered approaches which would encourage students to drink less alcohol on nights out in Liverpool’s City Centre. The initial data collection has included a rapid literature review, venue observations (n=20), content analysis of venue social media activity (n=12), nightlife surveys with students (n=171), focus groups/paired interviews with students (n=32 [total participants]) and interviews with key stakeholders (n=21).

This research has highlighted the following:

  • Binge drinking is normalised within Liverpool’s student population. The students who took part in this research consumed high quantities of alcohol and were frequent users of Liverpool’s night time economy. Alcohol consumption was seen as an important part of student culture as it played a key role in socialisation and creating shared peer group experiences.
  • Nightlife venues in Liverpool’s City Centre will use drink promotions to target students. The students and stakeholders were aware of specific venues targeting students through designated ‘student nights’ which were often associated with drink promotions. This was further confirmed by the content analysis of venue social media profiles and the venue observations.
  • Students who do not drink alcohol are perceived to be on the periphery of mainstream student culture. In general, students who did not drink alcohol were perceived to be missing out on social events. This was because they were not part of the shared peer group experiences that involved alcohol consumption. Whilst the student participants considered not drinking on a night out to be acceptable, they were reluctant to abstain from alcohol if they were in traditional nightlife venues (i.e. pubs, bars and clubs).
  • Students are unlikely to consume non-alcoholic drinks when visiting nightlife venues. The nightlife survey and student focus groups demonstrated how non-alcoholic drinks were not considered to be value for money. When students did have a non-alcoholic drink during a night out it tended to be tap water. Students were also reluctant to consume non-alcoholic drinks in nightlife venues as it would go against cultural norms.
  • Activities that offer an alternative to visiting traditional nightlife venues appeal to students. Students appeared to be keen on engaging with a range of activities where the focus would not be on alcohol consumption (for example film nights, quizzes). Students highlighted the fact that socialising was their primary concern as well as the events providing value for money. Stakeholders listed a number of similar activities that they had previously organised that they perceived to be popular with students. Students felt that alternative events with less of a focus on alcohol consumption would be more likely to encourage them to drink less than promotions on non-alcoholic drinks in nightlife venues.

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