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Home > Combinations of drinking occasion characteristics associated with units of alcohol consumed among British adults: an event-level decision tree modeling study.

Stevely, Abigail K and Holmes, John and Meier, Petra S (2021) Combinations of drinking occasion characteristics associated with units of alcohol consumed among British adults: an event-level decision tree modeling study. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 45, (3), pp. 630-637. doi: 10.1111/acer.14560.

External website: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acer.1...

BACKGROUND: Alcohol consumption is influenced by the characteristics of drinking occasions, for example, location, timing, or the composition of the drinking group. However, the relative importance of occasion characteristics is not yet well understood. This study aims to identify which characteristics, and combinations of characteristics, are associated with units consumed within drinking occasions. It also tests whether accounting for occasion characteristics improves the prediction of consumption compared to using demographic information only.

METHODS: The data come from a cross-sectional, nationally representative, online market research survey. Our sample includes 18,409 British drinkers aged 18 + who recorded the characteristics of 46,072 drinking occasions using 7-day retrospective drinking diaries in 2018. We used decision tree modeling and nested linear regression to predict units consumed in occasions using information on drinking location/venue, occasion timing, company, occasion type (e.g., a quiet night in), occasion motivation, drink type and packaging, food eaten and entertainment/ other activities during the occasion. We estimated models separately for 6 age-sex groups and controlled for usual drinking frequency, and social grade in nested linear regression models. Open Science Framework preregistration: https://osf.io/42epd.

RESULTS: Our 6 final models accounted for between 55% and 71% of the variance in drinking occasion alcohol consumption. Beyond demographic characteristics (1 to 9%) and occasion duration (24 to 60%), further occasion characteristics and combinations of characteristics accounted for 31 to 70% of the total explained variance. The characteristics most strongly associated with heavy alcohol consumption were long occasion duration, drinking spirits as doubles, and drinking wine. Spirits were also consumed in light occasions, but as singles. This suggests that the serving size is an important differentiator of light and heavy occasions.

CONCLUSIONS: Combinations of occasion duration and drink type are strongly predictive of alcohol consumption in adults' drinking occasions. Accounting for characteristics of drinking occasions, both individually and in combination, substantially improves the prediction of alcohol consumption.


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