Home > Young people’s explanations for the decline in youth drinking in England.

Whitaker, Victoria and Curtis, Penny and Fairbrother, Hannah and Oldham, Melissa and Holmes, John (2023) Young people’s explanations for the decline in youth drinking in England. BMC Public Health, 23, (402), https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-022-14760-y.

External website: https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles...

BackgroundYouth alcohol consumption has fallen markedly over the last twenty years in England. This paper explores the drivers of the decline from the perspectives of young people.

MethodsThe study used two methods in a convergent triangulation design. We undertook 38 individual or group qualitative interviews with 96 participants in various educational contexts in England. An online survey of 547 young people in England, was also conducted. Participants were aged between 12–19 years. For both data sources, participants were asked why they thought youth alcohol drinking might be in decline. Analysis of interview data was both deductive and inductive, guided by a thematic approach. Content analysis of survey responses further refined these themes and indicated their prevalence within a larger sample.

ResultsThe research identified eight key themes that young people used to explain the decline in youth drinking: The potential for alcohol-related harm; Contemporary youth cultures and places of socialisation; The affordability of alcohol; Displacement of alcohol by other substances; Access and the regulatory environment; Disputing the decline; Future Orientations; and Parenting and the home environment. Heterogeneity in the experiences and perspectives of different groups of young people was evident, particularly in relation to age, gender, and socio-economic position.

Conclusions: Young people’s explanations for the decline in youth drinking in England aligned well with those generated by researchers and commentators in prior literature. Our findings suggest that changing practices of socialisation, decreased alcohol affordability and changed attitudes toward risk and self-governance may be key explanations

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